Football for Freedom Rivalry

Red Lion Lions @ Dallastown Wildcats

Friday, November 3, 2017 7:00 PM

After strapping on the shoulder pads in preparation for the Backyard Brawl for over 60 years, Dallastown and Red Lion still get impassioned when rivalry week rolls around. And who could blame them? Momentum has changed hands 30 times in this rugged gridiron classic.

Red Lion and Dallastown began sparring back in 1954 with the Lions taking 14 of the first 15 contests. However, this series has tightened significantly. Since that initial outburst, by the Lions, neither school has been able to put together a win streak of more than four games. Dallastown won a string of four straight contests beginning in 1980 and took three straight from 2012-14. From 1989-2002, each club won seven games.

While rivalries like Dallastown-Red Lion were already representing feelings of pure excitement and school pride to those involved in the games, organizers from both schools wanted to turn this rivalry into something even more meaningful. So Dallastown and Red Lion added a patriotic theme to the Brawl in 2010 and now call it “Football for Freedom.”

All veterans are encouraged to attend the game free of charge. Honorary military team captains are chosen for both Dallastown and Red Lion, who then participate in the coin toss at the beginning of the game and present the winning team with the traveling trophy at the game’s conclusion. The ‘Ballyhoo Trophy’ then goes home with the victor until the next Backyard Brawl is decided.

Winners of the last two Backyard Brawls, Red Lion is dialing in on becoming the first of these two football programs to win five games in a row since 1968. Dallastown, on the other hand, is eager to throw the momentum switch back in its favor and win its first contest over Red Lion since 2014.

Many say this is the best rivalry in York County. So arrive early and grab your seat on Friday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. to take in the Football for Freedom Rivalry, one of Pennsylvania’s longest running football showdowns.

Riverly Series Hashtags

  • #BeatDallastown
  • #BeatRedLion

@ Dallastown
Red Lion Lions Dallastown, PA
Loveland Tigers
Dallastown Wildcats Dallastown, PA

Red Lion

Red Lion Lions

Red Lion, PA

Red Lion High School, home of the Lions, is located about three miles to the east of York Adams Division 1 Football Conference rival Dallastown on Pennsylvania Highway 74 North. Red Lion has a male student enrollment of 637 and will compete in Class 6A District 3 football this fall.

The Lions began this series with a run that may never be equaled. After winning the first four Backyard Brawls, beginning in 1954, Red Lion followed a 14-0 loss to Dallastown in 1958 with 10 straight wins to go up 14-1 in the series. The Lions outscored Dallastown 498-96 during that stretch.

Defense was the name of the game for Red Lion, 41-23 all time in the ‘Football for Freedom’ series, back then as the Lions posted five shutouts in the first 15 contests, and held Dallastown to a touchdown or less in 11 games. On four other occasions Red Lion won at least three straight contests, including 2003-2006 when the Lions took four straight contests.

Jesse Shay took over the Red Lion head job in 2013 and is 27-16 going into his fifth season there. After missing out on the playoffs in 2013, Shay has guided the Lions to first round playoff appearances in each of the last three seasons. Shay stands at 2-2 in the Backyard Brawl after winning the last two gridiron fisticuffs 26-0 and 27-7.

Red Lion will have a ton of history on its side when the Lions travel to Dallastown this fall. But don’t count on the Lions to rely on the past for their Backyard Brawl success. A traveling trophy is at stake now, and as the Lions see it that trophy belongs behind the familiar walls at Red Lion High School.

For more information on the Red Lion football team, click here.


Dallastown Wildcats

Dallastown, PA

Dallastown High School, home of the Wildcats, is located about 49 miles to the north of Baltimore (MD) on Interstate-83 North and 34 miles to the south of Harrisburg (PA) on I-83 South. After opening its doors in 1898, Dallastown has a male student enrollment of 784 and will compete in Class 6A District 3 football this fall.

Members of the York-Adams Division 1 Football Conference, Dallastown’s strongest run in this series dates back to the early 1980s when the Wildcats reeled off four straight wins beginning in 1980. In those triumphs, the Wildcats outscored Red Lion 120-44. Dallastown also swept Backyard Brawl contests in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

After taking over the Dallastown football program in 2005, Kevin Myers is 6-7 against Red Lion, including a 14-6 playoff loss to the Lions in 2010 after his Wildcats won the regular season contest 38-36. The 13th year head coach is 75-57 at Dallastown. After making nine postseason runs during his tenure, Myers is 3-9 in the Pennsylvania state football playoffs at Dallastown.

Winners of six of the last 10 Football for Freedom games, the Wildcats will be looking to the future when Red Lion comes calling in November. This crew of Cats won’t be satisfied until Red Lion is back on the bottom looking up in this series following a Wildcat triumph.

For more information on the Dallastown football team, click here.