When the 2013 football season kicks off, the Mansfield Hornets will be on the road in the truest sense when they travel to Maryland to start the season.
After seeing little interest from Massachusetts teams for an early season matchup, the Hornets decided to look for an out of state opponent and were able to arrange a match against Paul Laurence Dunbar High School of Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, September 6.
The Poets are coming off an 11-2 season that saw the team win their second state championship in a row.
"The Dunbar people were very enthusiastic about hosting and we thought it would be a great experience to play the defending Maryland state champs," Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said.
Redding also noted that the Poets recently had a new stadium built for them by Under Armor and the proximity to Washington D.C. and the University of Maryland made the game a good fit.
Going out of state is nothing new for the Hornets. In 2010 and 2011, the football team traveled up to New York to open the season. The 2010 campaign kicked off at Aquinas Institute in Rochester while the 2011 season started at Syracuse University with a win against Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse. In 2009, the Hornets hosted Cathedral Catholic of California.
While in the area, the Hornets are hoping to spend the Thurday before and the Saturday after the game visiting some of the historical sites in Washington D.C. There is also a chance the Hornets will be able to stop by the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and attend a football game at the University of Maryland. The Terrapins have extended an invite for the Hornets to come to practice before the game. The team are also looking into visiting Camden Yards and some of the seniors may look at some of the area's colleges.
Despite facing an out of state opponent, the ability to upload and host videos online has given Mansfield a chance to scout Dunbar High School without having to be at a game in person. According to Redding, the Poets make all their games available on their website and the Hornets will send game footage down to Maryland. Despite the start of the season being months away, Redding is already preparing for a challenging game against one of Maryland's finest programs.
"They have some great athletes and we're in the process of finding out who's returning and who's graduating. Their QB is a top prospect who has been offered by Ohio State and Maryland, among many others so we'll have our hands full
with them," Redding said.
The trip has been approved by the Mansfield High School administration. As with all out of state trips, the team is currently awaiting the approval of the Mansfield School Committee.