October 23, 2008

Top 10 High School Football Rivalries

  • 1. Massillon Washington vs. Canton McKinley
  • This game is so big, it - unlike so many rivalries on this list - doesn't need a special nickname.

    The two names of the school say it all.

    This year's meeting will be the 117th matchup of a rivalry that began in 1894, and it's a game that is always played on Saturday afternoon in the last weekend of the regular season.

    The Ohio communities sit about seven miles apart – think Duke-North Carolina in basketball – and both focus their energy the entire week of the game into topping their counterparts.

    This game is so big, it is the only high school football game that gets a betting line in Las Vegas.

    We were there: Watch the 07 highlights

  • 2. Jenks vs. Union – Backyard Bowl
  • Union players know Jenks' personnel, because they grew up together in Tulsa. Jenks' players know Union's personnel, because they've played football against each other all their lives. Or as one Jenks player told RivalsHigh last year, he had been raised to hate Union since he was 8 years old.

    With the exception of this year because of renovations, the game annually is played at the University of Tulsa's stadium, but a new home didn't stop Union running back Jeremy Smith from, for the second consecutive year, scoring the winning touchdown in overtime to beat Jenks. Don't be surprised if these two teams meet again this year, though. The last 12 Class 6A titles have been claimed either by Jenks or Union.

    We were there: Watch the 08 highlights

  • 3. Lowndes vs. Valdosta – Winnersville Classic
  • Two of the best big programs in Georgia, Valdosta has accumulated the most wins in the nation while Lowndes has won four of its five state titles since 1999. There might not be much to do in Valdosta, but the small town takes center stage the week of this game. Yet, as the dιcor of local fast food restaurants will attest, these two programs are honored year round.

    As pregame vandalism on the walls of Valdosta's building this year indicated, these teams don't care much for each other. Although Valdosta's football program has been around 55 years longer than Lowndes' program, the Vikings have beaten their crosstown rivals five consecutive seasons and are currently working on a 21-game winning streak.

  • 4. Pahokee vs. Glades Central – Muck Bowl
  • A month before this year's Florida classic is set to kick off, there were rumors that the game might be canceled. That's because, with local gang violence escalating, Pahokee's Norman Griffith was killed earlier this year and Glades Central's Bryon Blake was shot in the hand. Instead of calling it off, though, the schools decided to move the contest from Friday night Nov. 14 to 1 p.m. the next day for the players' safety.

    Playing this game in daylight, though, shouldn't limit the fireworks. Aside from the game – last year, it featured a pair of 9-0 teams – make sure to stick around for halftime. That's because during the battle of the bands show you might see the drum major dropped in via helicopter (this actually happened last year). Get there early, though. Last year, more than 1,500 fans were turned away at the door.

    We were there: Watch the 07 highlights

  • 5. St. Xavier vs. Trinity – Battle for the Shillelagh
    There are many more rivalries worth keeping an eye on.
    Alcoa vs Maryville (Tenn.)
    Kirkwood vs Webster Groves (Mo.)
    John Curtis vs Shaw (Louis.)
    Hampton vs Phoebus (Vir.)
    A.L. Brown vs Concord (N.C.)
    Northside vs Warner Robins (Ga.)
    Cherry Creek vs Mullen (Color.)
    Valley vs Dowling (Iowa)
    East vs West (Green Bay, Wisc.)
    Rockhurst vs Blue Springs South (Mo)
    Foothill vs Allegany (N.C.)
    Lincoln vs San Jose (Calif.)
    St. Ignatius vs Sacred Heart (Calif.)
    Phillipsburg vs Easton (Pa.)
    Dillard vs Ely (Fla.)
    Texas vs Arkansas (Texarkana)
    Latin vs English (Mass.)
    Rock Hill vs Northwestern (S.C.)
    Male vs Manual (Kent.)
    Minnetonka vs Wayzata (Minn.)
    This matchup isn't only about football. It's also about the alumni golf competition when the two schools compete in a Ryder Cup format with 48-men teams.

    It's also about the rivalry between the two Catholic schools, which usually means Catholic weddings are scarce on the weekend this game is played in Louisville.

    This year, a series-record 38,872 fans jammed themselves into the University of Louisville's stadium to watch St. X take the 30-6 win.

    Although it probably didn't take away the sting of Trinity's victory against the Tigers in last year's Kentucky Class 6A title game, St. X increased its lead in the series to 34-30-2.

    We were there: Watch the 08 highlights

  • 6. St. Ignatius vs. St. Edward – Holy War
  • These two programs not only want to see each other's blood on the field, but they also want to see it donated across northeast Ohio.

    This year, for the first time in the so-called Battle of Blood, the two schools competed against each other to see which school could donate the most to the American Red Cross.

    St. Ignatius holds the Ohio record for most state championships with nine, but only owns a 22-20-1 series advantage vs. St. Edward.

    Yet, St. Edward has won two of the past three years and it would like to accomplish the same this week.

  • 7. Northwestern vs. Jackson – Soul Bowl
  • This game has lost a little bit of luster lately, considering Jackson is coming off a 1-9 season in which it fielded a team of only about 25 players while Northwestern has won back-to-back Class 6A titles. But this series historically has been an important one, not only in Miami.

    The rivalry between these two schools has been played since 1967, but it dates back 20 years prior to that when the now-defunct schools of Dorsey and Booker T. Washington (since re-opened) would face off annually on Thanksgiving Day. The rivalry reached a fever pitch in 1998 when the squads played before 46,000 fans in the Orange Bowl.

    We were there: Watch the 07 highlights

  • 8. Permian vs. Lee – Friday Night Lights
  • Not many rivalries are featured in a best-selling book and the movie that was adapted from it, but if you hadn't heard of the Permian-Lee rivalry before, say, 2004, you probably know it by now. Yet for those who live in West Texas, this game always has represented the best of what high school football is supposed to offer.

    There's little question the "Friday Night Lights" franchise – can't forget about the TV series as well – has put the spotlight on this rivalry, even if others around the state think the Marshall-Longview game is the nastier, juicier affair. But in case you forget the power of Permian vs. Lee, remember that this game once pre-empted a Major League Baseball playoff game on the local NBC affiliate.

    We were there: Watch the 06 highlights

  • 9. Las Cruces vs. Mayfield – Battle for the City
  • These are two of the most successful programs in the state. Mayfield has won three consecutive New Mexico state titles – including last year's 49-48 triple-overtime victory against Clovis – and has won 45 of its past 47 games. This year, meanwhile, Las Cruces is 8-0 while averaging 46.5 points per contest.

    The rivalry grew even more intense in 2002 when Las Cruces beat Mayfield for the state title, 17-14, in front of about 30,000 fans.

  • 10. Mt. Carmel vs. St. Rita
  • When these two teams tangle, it's tough for the concessionaires to keep their stands stocked with food. That's how many people attend this game. These two Southside Chicago squads have been battling since 1924, and this year, more than 12,000 fans watched St. Rita pull out the 35-21 victory.

    Mt. Carmel quarterback Jordan Lynch – who actually lives closer to St. Rita but decided to attend Mt. Carmel – told the Chicago Tribune earlier this year he compared this game to the Cubs-White Sox rivalry, and brothers who compete for different teams decline to talk to each other during the week. In Chicago – in the entire state of Illinois, really – this game is hugely important.

    » MORE: Massillon vs McKinley: Game of the Week | Poll: Which rivalry is the best? | The Network

    Dallas Jackson is the Managing Producer of High School Sports for RivalsHigh.com.
    He can be reached at DJackson@Rivals.com.

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