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There’s nothing I love more than a good ole’ knock down, drag out, southern high school football rivalry. Stands packed, bands battling and excitement throughout, it’s these types of games that fans look forward to every year.
For my high school, the biggest game was always the last of the regular season: Starkville. By 2003, Columbus High had never won a game against our division opponent, and each year the senior class would proclaim that they would be the first to take down the Yellow Jackets.
My class finally broke the drought, beating Starkville, 13-7, on our senior night. The excitement from the win totally diffused the fact that we barely missed making the playoffs and our season was over. All that mattered was the fact that we finally had bragging rights over the Yellow Jackets for the next year.
Fast forward seven years, and I now find myself learning about a new rivalry. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’m finally getting the hang of the whole New Albany-Ripley game. I’ve asked kids in the past to explain the rivalry between the schools, and I can sense the same feelings I had while in high school.
So my goal for the week: get down to the bottom of this rivalry.
Earlier this week, I spoke with two former New Albany players to get their take on the rivalry since they experienced it first hand.
Jeremy Cannon has made a name for himself at running back since graduating from NAHS, and he spoke of the mutual respect the schools really have for one another.
“Ripley is our biggest rival, and our main goal was to beat them every year,” he said. “If you could do that with respect and get the job done on the field, you accomplished something.”
Former NA quarterback Drew Dodds also talked about the rivalry, stressing the importance of game and the encouragement it gives the winner each year.
“With Ripley, you know everyone, so it’s a lot more personal,” he said. “Anything can happen, and from as long as I can remember, we’ve never gotten along with them. It’s an intense, enthusiastic game that used to be played first every season. Each team comes in ready, and we’re only 15 minutes apart, so bragging rights are always on the line. You could measure the success you were going to have that season with a win over Ripley.”
With all this talk of the game, I know I’m ready to see what’s in store tonight.
For more on this, including a video from the ‘03 CHS-Starkville game, check out my blog.