For Menold, Hinchey, it’s a fight between friends

RIDLEY TWP. — Sean Menold and Tre Hinchey are captains of their respective football teams.

Menold, at Interboro, has been the starting quarterback since Day 1 of summer camp. He has led the Bucs to five wins and a District One Class AAA playoff appearance.

Hinchey, at Ridley, has flourished as an outside linebacker for the Green Raiders. He was also considered to be the starting QB at Ridley, but ultimately settled in on defense and contributes on offense at tight end.

On the surface, it would seem that Menold and Hinchey don’t have a lot of common. They compete at rival programs and have one agenda come Thanksgiving morning.

Ridley (7-3) and Interboro (5-6) clash Thursday morning at the South Avenue Athletic Complex. Opening kickoff is slated for 10:30.

“We’re not supposed to like each other,’ Menold said with a laugh.

Because it’s Ridley and Interboro, it’s only natural that players on both sides would dislike one another. Sure, there’s the respect factor, but there’s also pride at stake.

Being rival enemies is far from the case with Menold and Hinchey. It might seem weird or even unfathomable, but Menold and Hinchey are the best of buds. Their “bromance’ spans years, to when Menold and Hinchey were little kids and winning district titles on Babe Ruth baseball teams from 2010-12.

Their families hang out. On Friday nights, dads Dave and Joe get together and talk football over a cold one or two. In the summer, they have big family barbecues.

Menold also played baseball with Ridley linebacker Ryan Dougherty and quarterback Jake Hoffman. Not surprisingly, Menold almost became a Green Raider prior to his freshman year. He would have lived with his grandparents on Folsom Ave. That might explain why he’ll occasionally, by accident, wear a Ridley hoodie to school, much to chagrin of his teammates and longtime coach Steve Lennox.

“If I slip one day and wear one to school and I walk by Lennox, he’ll tell me, ‘˜We don’t wear green here,” Menold said. “Sometimes I don’t realize it and it’s just a black hoodie that says ‘˜Ridley’ on the back.’

When he entered the halls of Interboro for the first time, Menold felt he may be betraying his Ridley friends, but outside of busting his chops every now and then, Hinchey and his Ridley friends never held it against him.

“I’ve known these guys for a while, maybe even longer than some of my friends in high school,’ Menold said. “It’s a rivalry now, but it’s more about who’s going to get to rub it in and not an ‘˜I hate you’ type of thing. I still want to beat them, and they still want to beat us’

A Prospect Park kid, Menold grew up in the house next to the late Frank Witmer Jr., who founded the Prospect Park Termites youth football organization. Hinchey’s father, Joe, played football at Monsignor Bonner and is the president of Ridley Raiders Youth Football.

“I’ve known football pretty much all my life,’ said Hinchey, who made the Ridley varsity basketball team for the upcoming season. Menold is a standout baseball player for the Bucs and hopes to play the sport in college.

The goal for Hinchey and Ridley is to avenge last season’s crippling shutout loss at Phil Marion Field. Carried by a defense of then-seniors Miguel Quinones, John Bellano and Matt Gould, the Bucs beat the Green Raiders in dominating style. Both Menold and Hinchey started on defense that day.

Hinchey commented that this year’s game “feels a little different,’ as the Green Raiders are coming off a flat finish to an otherwise solid regular season. For the second year in a row, Ridley’s loss to Haverford precluded it from making the District One Class AAAA playoffs.

Even though Hinchey scored Ridley’s only touchdown in that game, it wasn’t enough to break his foul mood. It took a few days to snap out of his funk and start focusing on Interboro.

“We were just so down after (the Haverford game), that we wanted nothing to do with Thanksgiving,’ Hinchey said. “That whole week after the game, I was just moping around. But after a few days, you start thinking about it. You start to really look forward to playing them. At practice the other day, we were talking about how this season isn’t up to par with what a lot of people in this town expected from us. But this one game can erase everything.’

Menold also was apprehensive about the idea of playing Ridley when his Bucs dropped a 27-6 decision to then-undefeated Springfield in the first round of the District One Class AAA tournament.

“This week in practice and even last week, you can sense the mood was starting to change,’ Menold said. “Instead of dwelling on what happened, it was more of having an attitude to go out with a win. It means too much to the community to not take it seriously, and we need this one to finish the year .500.’

Menold has thrown for 1,306 yards and 10 touchdowns and Hinchey has played a vital role on a Ridley defense that made considerable strides in 2014 under first-year defensive coordinator Jeff Hamson. Ridley has allowed just 11.7 points and 66.9 rushing yards per game.

“They run a lot more than they pass, but we know (Menold) can throw the ball,’ Hinchey said. “We have to play discipline on defense and, on offense, we’ve got to get the ground game going and score some points.’

Menold, who doubles as an outside linebacker, is proud to see the progress the Interboro defense has made under coordinator Mike D’Espisito.

“Everything has just come together at the end of the year for our defense,’ he said.

With one game to go, Menold and Hinchey won’t hold back. Menold is well aware that the Ridley defense loves to blitz. It’s conceivable that Hinchey will have one or two clean looks to sack Menold.

“We’ve gotta make sure that doesn’t happen,’ Menold said.

No matter which team wins, Menold and Hinchey will be telling stories about Thanksgiving morning for years to come.

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