Who Says it is Just a Football Game?
by Dave Pickren
On Friday Night, for the 31st time I will attend an event that I have come to love more than Clemson / USC football, more than the Braves in the World Series and definitely more than another NFL SuperBore game. Friday Night is THE GAME and once again I will be ready as the Viking and Cavaliers take the field in what is arguably the best high school football rivalry in the state of South Carolina.
While every school has a rival and to each school that rival is the most important game of the year, nothing compares to the Spartanburg City showdown. For the past 36 years, the entire town of Spartanburg stops to witness this game. No other town comes close to the intensity of this rivalry. Nothing has the proximity of these schools, only 5.5 miles apart. Nothing has the history of playing the game 42 times in 36 years including a state championship in 95 and a State Semi Final in 99. Nothing draws the crowds that cause this game to sell out on Monday morning, 5 days before the game. Only in Spartanburg do all these intangibles come together to produce a piece of Americana that is unequaled for excitement, intensity and pride.
This year's game is again important for both teams. At stake as always are the bragging rights for the year. But also this year up for grabs is positioning for the upcoming play-offs. The winner has the inside track for the Region 2 Title and controls their own fate for the Region title. The winner has the chance to lock up the home field advantage throughout the play-offs and avoid the trip to Summerville on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But most importantly the winner will know they competed with the best and were victorious.
A Little History
Spartanburg High School has always been the city school of Spartanburg going back over 70 years. In those days the Vikings were known as The Spartanburg Crimson Tide. The name was changed in the 60's as a way to further integrate the school after desegregation occurred in Spartanburg in the 1960's
Dorman on the other hand was the county high school which came together in 1964 with the combination of Fairforest, Roebuck and the segregated Lincoln High School on the west side of Spartanburg. Back in those days Dorman was in the middle of a field with nothing around for miles and miles. It was truly the rural county high school.
As time passed and the west side of Spartanburg grew, Dorman slowly began to catch up with Spartanburg first in enrollment, then in size and finally in ability. Today the west side of Spartanburg has surpassed the east side in terms of development, new housing, and in student enrollment. In 2 years the new Dorman High School will open giving Dorman the premier educational facility in the state of South Carolina.
Spartanburg dominated the series early on and won the first 13 games before Dorman finally broke thru in 1975 for their first win. Dorman's first win was played at Wofford's old Snyder Field and provided a chance for Dorman to finally announce to the state that they could play with the big boys by defeating the Vikings 31-27.
For the remainder of the 70's and into the 80's, The Vikings continually had the better of the Cavaliers on the field and amassed a 22-1-1 record against their rivals. Also in 1981 the game was moved from the final regular season game to the 3rd game of the season when SCHSL placed Dorman in Region 1 and left Spartanburg in Region 2. Two years later Dorman moved back into Region 2 and the game has been the 7th game of the season since then. Sort of like the 3rd Saturday in October for Tennessee and Alabama.
My first taste of the rivalry
1975 was my first Dorman ? Spartan High game and an event that I will never forget. I remember vividly as a 6 year old driving across town to the Wofford Campus and sitting in the corner of the end zone to watch the game. It was a special occasion as my Godparent's son was the QB for Dorman and led the Cavs on a last minute drive to defeat the powerful Vikings. I was hooked immediately and forever. I still have a photo of the scoreboard reflecting the final score of 31- 27. More than anything this one game made me a fan of high school football. For some reason games were played in colder weather back then and I will always remember wearing so many layers of clothing and socks and sweaters that I could barely walk. The players were so much bigger then, or at least they seemed so to me, in fact they were larger than life and faster than a speeding bullet. I was hooked. And now nearly 30 years later and a thousand games later, I still get that rush of adrenaline that I had as a 6 year old sitting in those stands for the first time.
Tradition plays a large role in the rivalry sometimes even out shadowing the game. As Spartanburg was the city school and Dorman the county school, Spartanburg began to refer to the Cavs as farmers. Thus the tradition of Farmers Day began where the students, faculty and administrators at Dorman began dressing up as farmers on game day to enjoy the "farm" experience.
Over the years there has been pig races, cow milking contest, hay baling competitions and of course fans dressing the part. Somehow over the year, Spartan High decided to "mock" their country cousins and also began the tradition of Farmers Day. Now both schools follow the tradition of Farmers and Hay rides and Pep Rallies. Of course today both schools are in the middle of the urban sprawl and both are definitely city schools but the image of the City vs. Country still plays in on in this rivalry.
As the years progressed, The Vikings continued to own the Cavaliers on the gridiron winning the majority of the games. Of course the powerful teams that Spartanburg had in the 70's and 80's under Bill Carr dominated everyone they played and were certainly one of the top teams in the state despite never winning a championship during this time. Dorman did manage a second win in