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Christilaw: Rivalry games create long-lasting memories

Anytime rivals play, the air gets filled with a buzz of excitement. Rooting sections get just that much louder and the back and forth between them, across the gridiron, gets that much more spirited.

Ferris and Lewis and Clark was a perfect example Friday night at Albi Stadium.

The Battle for the South Hill always has a lot riding on it – two programs with a long history of success and long history of friendly rivalry.

This one was no different.

Ferris moved the ball well between the 20-yard lines but only managed a field goal in the first half. Lewis and Clark struggled to move the ball against a Ferris defense that showed no respect for the Tigers running game and blitzed continually.

That all changed in the second half, and if you just showed up for the fourth quarter you’d think the game had been an offensive barn-burner.

In the end, there were three lead changes in the final three minutes, with LC winning the game on a 39-yard field goal as time expired.

LC coach Dave Hughes walked off the field with a smile on his face and perspective in his heart.

“A win like this against your rival is something these kids are going to remember for the rest of their lives.”

Perhaps it was the way the LC season had already gone that put the coach in such a reflective mood. The Tigers had missed an extra point and eventually lost to Moses Lake in overtime in Week 1. Week 2 saw them miss a game-winning field goal when the ball hit the upright.

That kind of hard-luck story is enough to make you savor your first win of the season. And when that win comes against your archrival, you drink deep.

When you keep your focus on wins and losses and how they fit into your various playoff permutations, you lose sight of the simple fact that high school sports are about a journey, not a destination.

A precious few teams win titles. Fewer still win championships.

Every player who participates in a sport, however, can learn what it means to be part of a team and take away a host of memories.

That’s exactly why we’ve invented, and perfected, the rivalry game.

Win not worth injury

One memory I would love to get rid of is the image of a wobbly football player staggering back into the huddle to continue playing.

We know too much about the dangers of secondary concussion – how it can be life-threatening.

And still we see it happen.

This time it was Michigan’s 30-14 loss to Minnesota. Quarterback Shane Morris was hit, helmet to helmet – which all of football is working to eliminate.

In this case, Morris got up and was visibly groggy and allowed to stagger back to the huddle to run the next play.

Not only that, but when Morris’ back-up was injured, Coach Brady Hoke put Morris back in the game, where he was eventually carried off the field on a cart.

Hoke now is under fire, with a growing number of fans calling for at the least a suspension, and even more for his firing (granted, Michigan’s bad start to the season only adds to the call for his firing).

Winning a football game isn’t worth risking the life of a player.

Steve Christilaw is a longtime freelance sportswriter and reporter. He can be reached at steve.christilaw@ gmail.com.
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