Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A tale of two rivals

Many football programs have more than one rival. Michigan has Michigan State and Ohio State. MSU has the Wolverines and Notre Dame. ND has Michigan, MSU and USC, to name a few. On the high school level the Massillon Washington-Canton McKinley rivalry is Ohios oldest and one of the most recognizable rivalries in the entire country. But Massillon also counts Warren Harding as a big rival.
Locally our Little Giants take part in Ohios second-oldest rivalry with the Sandusky Blue Streaks. It is a series that has been going on since 1895. It is also one of the nations oldest high school football rivalries. It means a lot to both communities, even in times when one of the two programs, in this case Sandusky, is really struggling.
But like the aforementioned programs with more than one rival, Fremont Ross also has a second intense rivalry. That would be with this weeks football opponent, the Findlay Trojans. And as much as we want to beat that team from Erie County, we also point to and want to beat Findlay.
Just seven years after the Ross-Sandusky series started, Fremont Ross and Findlay began their historic football series. The year was 1902, 107 year ago, and the Trojans won the first ever game between the two schools 41-11. The next time the two teams met was the sixth game of the 1906 season and once again the Trojans won 58-0. After those two drubbings the two teams would not face each other again until the third game of the 1917 season and the result was much the same as the previous two meetings, Findlay won 30-6. Fremont Ross would wait until the 1919 season before getting a taste of victory over their Hancock County foes with a 22-0 shutout win.
Coming into this Friday nights homecoming game at the Don the two rivals have met 86 times since that inital game at the start of the 20th century. Despite the early Trojan success, the Little Giants have a commanding 52-31-3 lead in the series. The two teams have met on the gridiron every year from 1930 on. That surpasses the Ross-Sandusky rivalry which has seen interruptions twice, in 1943 and again in 1987 and 1988.
The Ross-Findlay rivalry has seen some interesting streaks. The most recent was a six game win streak by the Trojans from 1998-2003. That matched the win streak the Little Giants had from 1992-1997.
We all know the great players and coaches that have taken part in the Little Giants side of this rivalry. Well Findlay too, has seen its share of noted players and coaches in the series. Rothelisberger, Schramm, Iriti, Walker and more have made stellar plays for the Trojans, while coaches such as Hite and Bill Jones have piloted Findlay on the sidelines.
There have been some incredible games between the two teams. In this fans mind the 1974 game was probably the greatest in the history of the rivalry. The 7-0-1 Little Giants visited the powerful Trojans at Donnell Stadium in the ninth game of the '74 campaign. 11,000 fans ringed Donnell for that game and they saw the Tom Hollman coached Little Giants slug out a 12-7 victory enroute to another Buckeye Conference title. In 1975 the unbeaten Trojans came into Harmon Stadium to face the 6-1-1 Little Giants. 10,000 were on hand to watch Findlay win 22-13.
So that brings us to 2009 and the 87th renewal of this old rivalry. Findlay comes in 1-4 while our Little Giants are 4-1. Both teams have been pointing to this game. The Trojans pin their hopes on turning their less than successful campaign around with a win over their hated rivals. Their team and fans have been pointing to this game from the preseason on. The Little Giants meantime, have also been pointing to this game, remembering what happened to them and their playoff hopes in a 37-34 heartbreaking loss to the Trojans in 2008 at Donnell Stadium.
Some folks seem to think that a team can only have one major rival. Well the facts and history points to another point of view. At Fremont Ross we are fortunate to be a part of two historic rivalries in the story of Ohio high school football. We'll take care of that team from Erie County in week 10. But before that let's take care of the other rival by knocking off the Trojans this Friday night at the Don.

Be there. All the goals are still there.



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