Neshaminy was in for an important test when they welcomed Pennridge to “Heartbreak Ridge” on Friday night; any loss could imperil their quest to qualify for PIAA playoffs.
After years of deliberation and review, the state has permitted Neshaminy to keep its redskins nickname – with certain restrictions attached.
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The History of Neshaminy High School Football
Neshaminy Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, boasts an illustrious past for both academics and athletic pursuits, especially football – its high school team being known as the Neshaminy Redskins today. Their baseball and football teams have won multiple state and national championships, respectively, and their athletic programs rank among the finest in Bucks County.
In 1953, Langhorne, Hulmeville, and Penndel united to form one high school district – hence its current name of Redskins High School. This name derives from an indigenous American tribe that once resided here; these Redskins were known for being highly territorial and competitive groups, so the term was adopted to reflect that aggressive nature.
At Neshaminy High School during the late 1950s and early 1960s, league play often revolved around Neshaminy, Morrisville, and Pennsbury – three schools that formed an unbeatable trio in league competition. Pennsbury became unbeaten that year while Neshaminy had an undefeated season that year at 9-0 against both Pennsbury and Morrisville; when Pennsbury and Morrisville met again at Neshaminy for a massive game with 10,000 spectators watching in 1958, it ended 6-6 with both teams sharing co-championship status between them.
Later in 1968, the Redskins featured one of the most dominant teams ever seen at any high school in Pennsylvania. Led by All-American quarterback Mark Schmidt and featuring 13 Division I college players coached by Jack Swartz (deceased), their team finished as the No. 1-ranked team nationally and claimed both Lower Bucks and Big Seven conference titles during that season.
Now is perhaps the time for the Washington NFL franchise to change its team name to something less controversial, following parent Joanne Fann-Boyle’s local campaign launched in 2013. Her efforts to change the school name have met resistance from some residents; their reasoning was cited as evidence against Fann-Boyle.
The Neshaminy Redskins
After the Washington Redskins announced they are retiring their team name and logo, local attention has turned towards Neshaminy School District’s use of “Redskins.” Even though Native American groups have repeatedly requested schools stop using names that may be offensive or derogatory to them, the district remains unwilling to change its name.
Donna Fann-Boyle, who hails from Cherokee and Choctaw heritage, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission seeking to have their district change its name; unfortunately, she was unsuccessful but pledged her continued effort in her fight.
Neshaminy School District serves approximately 2,500 students in grades 9 through 12, boasting an outstanding history of academic excellence as well as its longstanding commitment to community service and volunteer efforts. Furthermore, this district boasts an illustrious record in high school football victories.
Though its students have excelled, the district has struggled to dismantle some of its racist past. For instance, school officials attempted to censor a student newspaper after its editors removed “Redskins” from an editorial in 2013 which caused a massive battle among staffers and made national headlines.
Recent court rulings allowed the district to keep using Redskins names for its sports teams; however, a commission ruling dictated that it must educate students on Native American history to ensure stereotypes do not perpetuate themselves. Reaction was mixed; while some Native Americans expressed disappointment that the mascot would remain, others celebrated the ruling.
Due to controversy surrounding the Redskins name, some students and parents have boycotted their football team yet remain undefeated and poised to win a state championship this year. In order to bring back support, the Redskins hired former Redskin Josh Auerbach, who played from 2006-12 for Dana and Paul as one of three children; during his playing days on Redskins teams from 2006-12, he earned first-team all-district honors with three letters awarded; his tackle total included 47 tackles for loss (including six sacks!).
The Neshaminy Patriots
The Redskins have long been recognized as one of the premier high school football teams in eastern Pennsylvania. Through years of mergers, “splits,” and name changes, they have won 15 championships and four co-championships – second only to Easton, who has claimed 19 titles and three co-championships!
The 2001 team boasted an exceptional group of players. Jamar Brittingham earned Bucks County Courier Times player of the year honors after breaking a school rushing record as a senior, while Scott Donahue and Jay Collins each recorded All-State selection and totaled 1,213 yards in career running totals during his four years with Buckingham.
Initial signs were that Pennsbury would prove too challenging for Redskins, but the Redskins managed to rally. Thanks to two field goals from Brittingham and a 2-point conversion pass from QB Dan Baker to WR Connor Frederick, Redskins came back and secured victory 24-21.
Kevin Kelly kicked two field goals – from 27 and 42 yards, respectively – that gave the Redskins an early 10-7 advantage, but the Knights responded before halftime by recovering a fumble by Chuck Koch and scoring on their first possession with a 1-yard run by Brittingham and Kelly’s PAT kick; shortly after that, they increased their advantage to 23-14 when Kevin kicked from 47 yards out with just over 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
Subsequently, it became a defensive struggle, with both teams struggling to gain entry to the end zone through airplay. Neshaminy got within striking distance with two runs from Mr. B in the final minute but could not capitalize on an onsides violation and failed 2-pt PAT attempt that prevented their success in taking another victory streak into 2017.
That was an impressive performance by a young and talented team that displayed tremendous resolve under pressure. Although not possessing the size and depth typically seen among state champions, their desire and will to win was unsurpassed by any other high school football squad in their region that season – RivalsHigh25 even ranked them 9th overall!
The Neshaminy Eagles
Neshaminy High School serves over 2,500 students from grades 9 through 12, offering vital academic programs and numerous activities for all grade levels. As part of its tradition of community support and service, the district runs an annual week-long campaign called Go Gold Week that raises funds for pediatric cancer patients and their families through events like its football game Go Gold Friday!
A judge has found that the district’s use of the nickname “Redskins” does not violate state law that prohibits discrimination and overturned a decision by Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission which had found the term offensive and racist. It dates back to scalping times when U.S. governments paid monetary rewards for Native American scalps taken.
North Penn defeated District 1 Class 6A rival Neshaminy 55-34 at Crawford Stadium on their campus in Lansdale after coming back from an 18-point deficit to claim victory in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Crawford Stadium. Sophomore running back Khalani Eaton ran for 283 yards and two touchdowns, while seniors Evan Spann and R.J. Macnamara each scored twice through running. Their defense held them scoreless until late in the second half.
Families and students in grades 3-5 were invited to Neshaminy High School Music Department’s inaugural Music Discovery Night event for families on Monday, September 11th. Families could experience student musicians as they tried out instruments available at Neshaminy, including brass, woodwind, and string instruments – with 15 tools made available for tryout. It proved to be a hugely successful night, with similar nights planned for the future.