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Schuylkill County cheers on Penn State football team's Tyler Elsdon

It's not just any season opener for these Penn State fans, many of them wearing number 43 in support of one of their own.

FRACKVILLE, Pa. — College football is back, and Nittany Lions fans are fired up for another season. 

Penn State faithful in Schuylkill County kicked off the season with a tailgate party outside the Elks Lodge. 

Cold drinks, sizzling burgers, and good company are all on the menu.

"The food is the most important, right? I think this is the closest we could get to State College, so we'll take it," said Ron Bane, Exalted Ruler of Frackville Elks.

It's not just any season opener for these Penn State fans in Schuylkill County, many of them wearing number 43 in support of one of their own.

It's all for hometown hero Tyler Elsdon, a 2020 North Schuylkill graduate making his first start at middle linebacker for Penn State.

His mom Nea Griffin joined the fans to watch the game on the inflatable screen under the stars. 

She and her husband couldn't make it to the Thursday night contest against Purdue, but she did check in with her quarterback-sacking son. 

"I asked him if he was nervous, and he said, 'mom, it's just like playing high school. It's just another game, and I have to do my job.' So, we're excited for him," Griffin said.

Watching her son start his first game for a perennial college football powerhouse means the world.

You're going to make me cry. It's emotional," Griffin said. "It's exciting, but he earned it."

Credit: WNEP

"To get that scholarship and now get an opportunity to be a starter, it's awesome. It's everything he's worked for and dreamed about," added Wally Hall, North Schuylkill head football coach.

Hall had a hand in Elsdon achieving that dream, but he credits Tyler's hard work and persistence as the keys to his success. 

His former coach is confident Elsdon will live up to Penn State's expectations and excel at the coveted linebacker position. 

"That's why he chose Penn State. He knows the legacy there, that being 'Linebacker U.' That's the perfect place for him and the place he wanted to be because of that reason," Hall said.

It's the start of another season of Penn State football and a chance to add to that legacy. 

Local sports from Newswatch 16 are available on YouTube.

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