In my early teens I moved from Huber Heights to the town of Washington Court House. As a young child I had heard of the small country school named Miami Trace. In fact my mother was in the first graduating class of 1963 and shared her stories of growing up in and around Fayette County.
Being a Buckeye fan I knew quarterback Art Schlichter played high school ball at Trace, but I had no idea about how crazy this part of Ohio was about football or even that Trace and the Blue Lions of Court House played each other.
During my freshman year, I learned that when these two schools played, the county of Fayette came to a stop. Having only attended WCH my freshman year, I still recall how special the week leading up to the Trace game was. In those days, Trace with their back-to-back All-American quarterbacks had the upper hand when playing the Blue Lions.
But the freshman team that I was apart of, had beaten the Panthers freshman , and when I say beaten I mean beaten. We didn't allow a first down, and I don't even think they crossed the 50. I still remember Coach Taylor, an alumni of Trace, telling us how important this game was to the future of Blue Lion football.
People often ask me what was my greatest memory of playing football. I tell them about the one year I spent at WCH and the great freshman season the football team had. I also tell them about receiving a Christmas card from the varsity staff telling us we would be state champions in two years. While I moved away from Court House, I remember seeing that those coaches were right, the Blue Lions played in the state championship my junior year. I also learned what the word RIVAL meant, and still today will cheer for the Blue Lions when they play the Panthers.
The reasons I writing about these two schools is simple. What is one of Ohio's great rivalries, has been silent. The Blue Lions and Panthers have not played in several years and this week they will renew that cross county game that I found meant so much to all the athletes I was around.
While its been a tough year for the Blue Lions, the Panthers are showing signs they have a group of young players that may lead them back into the playoffs next season. But with any rival, you never know what will happen until you strap the helmets on. While I wish both teams the best, my heart is with the WCH Blue Lions this week.