The Sans Souci Struggle

The long time rivalry between Nanticoke and Hanover lives on. Here is what you need to know.


Alycia Knorr

The Sans Souci Struggle Trophy displayed at the entrance of GNA’s football stadium.

GNA CAMPUS – If you live in Nanticoke or Hanover, chances are that you’ve heard of the Sans Souci Struggle. With one of the most competitive and fierce rivalries in all of Luzern County, students still hold the tradition near and dear to their hearts. Whether you go to the jungle or the hawk’s nest, both teams always have their communities backing them. Here is a deep dive into the Sans Souci Struggle and what it means to both communities.

The Sans Souci Struggle started back in 2013, a decade from our current date. Both schools recognized the rivalry that was forming between the two districts. In 2018, the rivalry was finally coined the Sans Souci Struggle. Since then, every sporting event has gone down in infamy amongst the students and athletes.

Forward, Caleb Butczynski, shot a crucial free throw against Hanover on January 6th, 2023.

It all started off as a friendly conversation between Mr. Ryan Stetz and J.T. Levandowski on a Friday during class. They were talking about the football game that would occur later that night and who Nanticoke’s rival used to be. Depending on the sport, our rivals included Hazleton, Bishop Hoban, Myers, and GAR; and on a secondary level, Hanover. At the time of their conversation, Nanticoke and Northwest had a small rivalry as well. Over the years, rivalries have shifted between the schools.

Every rivalry in the area played for something. Their games had meaning behind them that drove the players and students to do their all to route their team on. All around, these schools were playing for trophies that only the two schools would know about. The Nanticoke vs Hanover game never had anything. There was no trophy or even title for the games. It was just a regular old football game that went on once every football season and it was over after that.

During Mr. Stetz and J.T.’s conversation, they joked it had been a real “struggle” between the schools. Whenever Nanticoke and Hanover would play each other, one team would always destroy the other. The game was always lopsided towards one of the two schools. The whole joke of the “struggle” started out as fun and meant that it was never really a competition between the schools. Either Nanticoke would dominate or Hanover would dominate – with no in-between.

At the time, Mr. Stetz and his students facetiously made up a trophy for the game that included many landmarks from all around Nanticoke. They included things that would be funny to someone from Nanticoke that outsiders wouldn’t understand why these things were on a trophy. For the next five years after this lighthearted conversation took place, Nanticoke would call the game vs Hanover the Sans Souci Struggle. A fun conversation between a student and teacher changed the way both communities see the rivalry.

A seemingly fun joke that would be had amongst the students at Nanticoke quickly spread like wildfire. In 2018, Mr. Long, then principal of Nanticoke but now superintendent of Northwest, heard about what the students had deemed the Hanover game. When Mr. Long heard about the Sans Souci Struggle, he couldn’t help but go tell the coaches. Once the coaches had that conversation with Mr. Long; it was from that moment that any sporting event against Nanticoke and Hanover area would be called the Sans Souci Struggle. The next Nanticoke vs Hanover game ended up being not as lopsided as years past, with Nanticoke winning 29 to Hanover’s 26. That game went down as one of the most entertaining games in the whole conference. Nobody had seen a game like the one played between these two schools in a number of years.

The meaning behind the game is way bigger than a story could ever tell. Since 2018, the Sans Souci Struggle has grown and represented the spirit and fun that is high school football. The Sans Souci Struggle is one of the few nights where high school football is a game between just the high school kids. The spirit carries over from the football games into the basketball games. These athletes aren’t playing for a grand cause or anything, they play to represent their high school. We get so caught up in the moment and never realize that it is just a high school football game.

The jungle at the 2022 Sans Souci Struggle football game in their Mount Nanticoke shirts.

Fast forward to the present where the rivalry is more alive now than it ever has been. The games are something many students get involved in from both districts. Kids from other school districts even come out to see the rivalry between Nanticoke and Hanover unfold. This year’s football game, Mr. Stetz and a band of students had come together to make shirts and mini footballs for the students and faculty of GNA. Along with the shirts, Mr. Stetz had gotten road signs, a tear-away banner for the football players to run through, and stickers with the Mount Nanticoke logo on them. Mount Nanticoke had displayed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln sporting headbands and t-shirts that supported GNA football. Standing in front of Mount Rushmore, looking up at the presidents, were four football players with the years Nanticoke has won against Hanover in years past. From left to right, the jersey numbers read 18, 19, 20, and 21 to symbolize the four straight years Nanticoke has beaten Hanover. Finally, there was a van driving down the road with a trailer hitch that had the iconic Sans Souci Struggle trophy on the back. The shirts were all white with a blue logo in order to incorporate Nanticoke’s colors but also provide us with the shirts for the theme of the game, white out.

Senior Dylan Shires, #56, sporting a smile after an amazing stop against Hanover.

Mr. Stetz sees this game as something that means a lot to the students and that these students connect to the games. As long as the students are still interested and Mr. Stetz has approval from the administration, he will continue giving his all to make this game meaningful to the students of Nanticoke. He wants to keep it as simple as possible because that is the key to his success. Having Mr. Stetz as the tether between the chaos and students is what makes the whole Sans Souci Struggle run so successfully.

If you go to either school, you’ve heard and/or seen the iconic trophy that is presented to the winning team of the football games. With the beauty of it all, Mr. Stetz is not sure how the trophy came about. The trophy just appeared in the 2018 Sans Souci Struggle football game. Ever since its first appearance, it has become a staple of the game and symbolizes triumph over the rival team. The trophy gave the athletes and both student bodies something to fight for and strive to win.

Senior, Sophia Lukowski, after kicking another field goal against Hanover that broke the school record previously set by her earlier in the season.

When people think of the Sans Souci Struggle, they mostly think of the Friday night lights football game. However, the Sans Souci Struggle has carried over into every other sport.

Tonight, the Greater Nanticoke Area Trojans go up against the Hanover Area Hawks in the final meeting between the two basketball teams for the year. The jungle hosts the hawk’s nest tonight at 6 p.m. for JV and 7 p.m. for varsity. With the rivalry still burning and GNA winning the past football game and having narrowly won against Hanover in the last basketball game at Hanover, Hanover is looking to win tonight to break the streak. Nanticoke’s athletes and students are going to give their all to prevent Hanover from winning tonight, especially when they enter the jungle.

Come out tonight to support your Greater Nanticoke Area Trojans!