Larry Ryland and Derek Day were going through the line, slapping and shaking hands with opposing players following the West's lightning-shortened 10-0 win in the PSFCA East West All-Star Football Game at Mansion Park on Saturday night.
When they came to each other, though, they both smiled. They paused a moment, then their handshake quickly turned into a hug.
"I just said, 'Congratulations. You played well,''' Ryland said.
In a game where emotions ran high and smack talk was easy to find, the moment between Ryland and Day exhibited the other side of things - friendship and camaraderie - even though they were wearing different colored jerseys.
Ryland, from State College, was a safety for the West. Day, a Central Dauphin grad, played the same position for the East.
While there were a lot of strangers coming together and forming friendships in Blair County during the week of practices, Day and Ryland were just adding another memorable chapter to theirs.
''Actually, I lived in State College for fifth and sixth grade,'' Day said. "I played basketball with Larry. We were on both the same basketball and football teams, and we became pretty much best friends. Then I moved away. We stayed pretty close.''
Close in that they would talk to each other now and then. Day's sister goes to Penn State, so Day would visit her sometime and see Ryland during the same trip.
''I think we're both kind of similar people. We're both fun guys. We're both outgoing. We pretty much strive for the same thing. We're both really competitive,'' Ryland said. ''We're pretty mellow. Every time we see each other every couple of months, it's always a good time. It's always hugs and handshakes.''
There were other stories like this that came out during the week. Altoona's Alphonso Lewis, a West player with Harrisburg roots, was playing video games with the East's Shariff Blake early in the week. High school rivals Nolan Kearney and Jabair Khan are actually best friends off the field, and, after teaming for the East, were reportedly planning an excursion to Pittsburgh together.
The PSFCA Game gave Day and Ryland more time than usual to get reacquainted with each other.
''This week, [I talked to him] three or four times, and I saw him [at Thursday's youth clinic], and I was talking to him a little while.'' Day said. ''We talked about just the different teammates, how the teams have been bonding, you know. How much we've been working, and what we've been doing and everything like that.''
Day was one of the original picks for the game. Ryland, however, was added to the West roster just a week before the first practice.
''I just heard it through the grapevine [that Ryland was in the game]. When I heard the news, I was pretty excited,'' Day said. ''It had been awhile.''
Day and Ryland didn't have a chance to butt heads Saturday night, but they have before. The pair have faced off in two regular-season games and one playoff game between State College and Central Dauphin over their junior and senior years.
Ryland's Little Lions came out on top in two of those encounters, but Day said he had his moments against his old buddy.
''He's a great player. He's quick lightning quick,'' Day said. ''I got to him once or twice.''
When told of Day's comment, Ryland grinned.
''Ahhhh, I say he got lucky,'' Ryland said. ''He's definitely a very, very good player. I give him lots of credit. We're both going to the same college, both doing the same thing.''
It's true. After going from teammates to opponents, Ryland and Day will be teammates again in the fall. Both players are headed to Penn State, where they'll be preferred walk-ons.
''Actually I didn't realize it until Penn State gives you a little mailing list of all the incoming freshmen. I didn't realize it until I saw that list. It was news to me,'' Ryland said. ''I thought it was great. I get to be going in with someone that I know. It's always nice going in and having a friend at the same college you're at. I think it's definitely going to be a good time.''
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