The Dieruff football team is expected to be improved this year. After winning just one game over the past four seasons, the Huskies — according to reports coming out of their scrimmages — are capable of posting several wins.
But win or lose, Dieruff will have a strong group of supporters backing them.
That's the Dieruff Alumni Association, which is less than two years old but has already carved a niche in boosting the spirits and offering support to the students at the east Allentown school.
On Sunday, the alumni association welcomed the Husky team members and coaches to the Lower Saucon home of president John Hughes and his wife, Jinny.
The kids had a blast enjoying the in-ground swimming pool and plenty of food as a send off into the football season, which begins on Friday night.
"It's exciting for us as alumni to see the spirit of the kids and to realize that Husky Pride is still alive," Hughes, a 1961 graduate and a Kiska Award winner, said. "What's important is that we're showing them that people care; not just their parents and family, but 53 years of Dieruff High graduates also care."
Hughes said that the alumni group grew as last season went on and their spirit became infectious.
"It was fun to watch the cheerleaders respond when we began doing our cheers from our days at Dieruff," Hughes said. "They joined in with us."
The alumni group is not just involved with the football team. They have held tailgate events for the baseball team at Coca-Cola Park and support the band and the school's theater group that has performed "Hairspray" and "Aida" in the past two years.
They also staged a ceremony and unveiled a new plaque in July 2012 in Dieruff's Dennis McGinley Natatorium to honor legendary swimmer Rick Hollister, the school's first state champion and All-American.
Hollister, a member of Dieruff's class of 1962, died three months later after a battle with cancer, but the ceremony gave him one last moment of glory at his alma mater. Steve Long, another member of the alumni association, was instrumental in arranging the ceremony.
Kay Kurtz Vogel, the association's secretary, said 1,650 Dieruff alumni are registered and more and more are showing up at events. A big tailgate before the Allen-Dieruff game on Nov. 2 is being planned.
"The alumni association has been great to us," Dieruff football coach Kyle Beller said. "This is the second year we've had the picnic and the kids who are back were really looking forward to it. It's a great team-building day for us because they're not here to talk football, they just want to have a good time.
"Camp has been a grind, but they're having fun today and they know it doesn't matter if you're a current student or graduated 50 years ago, we're all one big family."
Storm heading for Memphis
The Lehigh Valley Storm defeated the Panhandle Crusaders from Pensacola, Fla., 31-24 Saturday night at Salisbury to win the Xtreme Conference title and advance to the Gridiron Developmental Football League's Gridiron Bowl IV in Memphis on Sept. 7. The Storm (11-2) will meet the Oklahoma Thunder.
Sean Maher ran for three touchdowns and Whitehall grad Jimmy Lahue threw a TD pass to Billy Parker. The Storm, considered a minor-league football team, built leads of 17-0 and 24-8 and the defense put the game away late led by Carl Kreidler (Whitehall), Joe Peters (Parkland), Keenan Wells (Easton) and Chris Medina (Whitehall/Kutztown).
"It was very exciting," said head coach Bob Kohler. "I also coach at Muhlenberg and we have a game that same day, but I am hoping I can make it to Memphis."
Most members of the Muhlenberg team were in attendance at the start of Saturday's game to offer their support.
"I have been in the game a long time and who'd have ever thought I'd be coaching in a national title game," Kohler said. "I am having a lot of fun, but I've had great support from our coaches."