Coughlin Crusaders come home one last time

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]
Coughlin students cheer as a cheerleader, in foreground, is held in the air at Friday’s pep rally for homecoming. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Coughlin High students sing the school’s alma mater at the school’s last homecoming celebration due to the upcoming merger of Wilkes-Barre Area sports teams. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Coughlin student and cheerleader Abby Colleran helps fire up the crowd during Friday’s homecoming pep rally at the school. It was the last one for Coughlin due to Wilkes-Barre Area’s pending merger of athletic programs. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Coughlin flag runner Alex Zomer, a senior, excites the crowd at the homecoming rally. - - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Coughlin High School junior Rafael McCoy dances Friday as the cheerleaders get students excited about homecoming, the last one for Coughlin since the Wilkes-Barre Area School District’s sports teams will be merged starting next academic year. - - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

WILKES BARRE — If you craved a heady jolt of youthful joie de vivre, the Coughlin High School gym became the epicenter of over-amped energy right around 2 p.m. Friday. That’s when the students started screaming, cheerleaders started roaring and leaping, and the decibels went high enough to almost bring the roof down.

They all gathered for the last pep rally for the Coughlin Crusaders last homecoming football game. This time next year the blue and red will be recast as black and Carolina Blue, and the Crusaders will meld with the GAR Grenadiers and Meyers Mohawks to form the single sports mascot of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District: the Wolfpack.

“I think it’s great,” tight end Ben Yozwiak beamed when asked about the new mascot name. As a senior, he won’t get to don the new uniforms, but he envisioned nothing but positives in the re-branding. Wolfpack, he said, captures the reality. “It’s cool because its three schools coming together.”

He had a similar sentiment about plans to merge all three high schools a few years after the teams become one. “Change is always good.”

Alex Zomer stood out even in this gathering crowd, thanks to a lacy red skirt over his knee-length shorts, apparel he opted for simply to “liven things up.

“I wanted the feathers one girl was wearing around her neck,” he said, “but she wouldn’t give them up.”

Like Yozwiak, Zomer embraced all the coming change — merged athletic programs next year with new colors and team name, merged schools in a new building likely around 2021.

“It’s a good idea to bring all the schools together like this,” the senior said.

Then the rally began, and any hope of an audible conversation got buried by the roar of the exuberant crowd.

The students spelled out C-O-U-G-H-L-I-N, the cheerleaders cartwheeled, the flag twirlers twirled. Zomer set a red-and-white flag over his head and ran three laps around the gym as everyone stood and the front rows high-fived him, wide smiles on nearly every face.

As cheers, chants and speeches went on, he returned to the floor several times for three laps each time he was called, his grin never fading.

There was something about CHS, something about a fish and a box, a raucous rendition of the alma mater and something about a guaranteed win, but hearing the words was hardly the point.

This wasn’t just a pep rally. This was a piece of history.

Coughlin students cheer as a cheerleader, in foreground, is held in the air at Friday’s pep rally for homecoming.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100618Pep2.jpgCoughlin students cheer as a cheerleader, in foreground, is held in the air at Friday’s pep rally for homecoming. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Coughlin High students sing the school’s alma mater at the school’s last homecoming celebration due to the upcoming merger of Wilkes-Barre Area sports teams.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100618Pep3.jpgCoughlin High students sing the school’s alma mater at the school’s last homecoming celebration due to the upcoming merger of Wilkes-Barre Area sports teams. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Coughlin student and cheerleader Abby Colleran helps fire up the crowd during Friday’s homecoming pep rally at the school. It was the last one for Coughlin due to Wilkes-Barre Area’s pending merger of athletic programs.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100618Pep5.jpgCoughlin student and cheerleader Abby Colleran helps fire up the crowd during Friday’s homecoming pep rally at the school. It was the last one for Coughlin due to Wilkes-Barre Area’s pending merger of athletic programs. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Coughlin flag runner Alex Zomer, a senior, excites the crowd at the homecoming rally.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100618Pep4.jpgCoughlin flag runner Alex Zomer, a senior, excites the crowd at the homecoming rally. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Coughlin High School junior Rafael McCoy dances Friday as the cheerleaders get students excited about homecoming, the last one for Coughlin since the Wilkes-Barre Area School District’s sports teams will be merged starting next academic year.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_TTL100618Pep1.jpgCoughlin High School junior Rafael McCoy dances Friday as the cheerleaders get students excited about homecoming, the last one for Coughlin since the Wilkes-Barre Area School District’s sports teams will be merged starting next academic year. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish