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Lions gather one final time as team at celebration banquet

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It’s been nearly a month since the Horace Mann football team locked up its third Hudson Valley Football League championship in four seasons, yet it was time for the Lions football family to come together one final time.

It was a celebratory banquet of Horace Mann’s success on the field while also saluting the 17 seniors who were part of four title game appearances in their high school careers. There were speeches, championship swag, and some outside-the-box gifts to the outgoing seniors that they will cherish for years to come.

It was a night four years in the making, and a look back on four years gone by way too fast.

“I came to Horace Mann my freshman year, and the football program was a great way of helping me be able to make friends and keep those friendships throughout my four years at HM,” senior quarterback Brody McGuinn said. “I think football helped with my transition to HM as well. I’ll remember these guys forever. There is no doubt that these friendships will last a long time.”

It was somewhat of a bittersweet night for McGuinn, who had a touchdown pass to Kelvin Smith to help lock up the 14-6 victory over Dalton in the HVFL championship game last month. While he’ll remember all the successes the Lions achieved in his for years, he will miss his time with his now former teammates.

“I totally miss football,” McGuinn said. “Over the years my dad has taken a lot of photos of each and every season, so I’m going back and looking through all the photos and watching all the videos, and it is very sad.”

Raphael “Rae Rae” Silverman, the Lions’ dominant lineman and kicker, surprisingly doesn’t miss playing in games as much as the camaraderie of his teammates at a routine practice.

“For me it’s less about the championships and more about the practices and the friendships that was the most fun,” Silverman said. “The practices were more fun than the games themselves. Plus the relationships we had with the coaches, too. Those things meant the most to me.”

Each of the seniors received championship sweatshirts as parting gifts, and Silverman played a role in designing them.

“Dr. (Tom) Kelly, the school’s headmaster, was nice enough to pay for championship sweatshirts for the team,” Silverman said. “I helped design them and they turned out pretty well. They’re black and maroon and they have your position and number on it, and its says ‘HVFL champions.’”

“It was really nice swag,” McGuinn said.

Silverman laughed when he talked about another gift the players received, one that was weeks in the making.

“Toward the end of the season, Brody mysteriously said to us that he needed a picture of all of the seniors, a picture from the waist up and in shoulder pads,” Silverman said. “So we all did that. Then his dad made up these life size cutouts, these giant cardboard cutouts of each of us, and it says Horace Mann champions. It was really nice.”

While Silverman said his cutout remains in his bedroom and will probably find its way to his college dorm room next year, McGuinn made sure the masses could appreciate his cardboard likeness.

“Mine is sitting out front on my lawn so when people drive by they can see it,” McGuinn said, laughing. “But I’m sure it’s something a lot of guys are going to take to college with them.”

Looking back, McGuinn said his best memory at Horace Mann was not this season’s championship game, but rather the one the Lions won last year, also over Dalton, in which he didn’t even start.

“The first two quarters of that game was played by another quarterback, Marc Murphy,” McGuinn said.

“Then he got injured, and I came in to fill the spot. It was a very close game, 7-0, and I was thrown into it. It wasn’t like I had time to worry about it prior to the game, I was just thrown in there and I think that’s when I played my best, during those two quarters.”

McGuinn already has applied to Penn State, Villanova and Boston College with others to come, and hopes to continue his football career on the collegiate level next fall.

“If I were to go to a smaller school, yes I’d probably want to play football, but at a bigger school, I’ll definitely try and walk-on or play club football,” McGuinn said. “It would be a great way to stay involved with football.”

But if college football doesn’t work out, McGuinn will still have his Horace Mann memories to cherish, including their farewell banquet.

“It really is a family here,” McGuinn said, “and it’s nice to be part of it and keep the family going.”

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