For as long as anybody can remember the biggest rivalry is Erie has been between Cathedral Prep and McDowell High School in football, basketball, soccer, and basically any other sport you can think of.
However, during the most recent Prep-McDowell football game on Friday, Sept. 25, something happened that was bigger than football or the Prep-McDowell beef when McDowell senior Johnny Heubel collapsed on the sideline near the middle of the 3rd quarter.
Even though Prep was down on the scoreboard, they knew that what was going on on the other sideline meant much more than winning a football game.
The whole game stopped for several minutes, and Johnny was taken to a nearby hospital via ambulance. Upon his arrival, he was airlifted to a hospital that could treat him better in Pittsburgh. Within 24 hours of the event taking place, news spread of the incident and many people began to realize the severity of the situation.
A GoFundMe was created on Sept. 26 to help pay for all the medical expenses and lodging for Johnny, which has already raised more than $70,000 in one month. Donations have come in from McDowell families, Prep families, and other well-wishers from within the community.
It was a good reminder that there are things more important than a high school rivalry and that a teenagers life was seriously on the line. It didn’t matter that he attended McDowell. It didn’t matter that McDowell had beaten Prep in the football game. All that mattered was Johnny’s health and recovery.
There was a ceremony held on the beach the Sunday after Johnny collapsed, and people from all different schools and walks of life attended it. Any problems kids had on the field or off were dropped out of respect for Johnny. At Prep, a Mass was dedicated to Johnny as if he attended Prep himself. The Prep football organization along with many other football organizations gave donations to the GoFundMe.
The Prep community will continue to keep Johnny and his family in our thoughts and prayers for as long as he needs them. Once again, this is bigger than any football game or high school rivalry, and Prep will do its part to support Johnny and his recovery.
A Facebook page titled “The Journey of Johnny Heubel – WE Believe IN #23” has been created to keep people informed of Johnny’s progress. The page currently has more than 6,000 followers.