A lot of "rival" games you end up hating the team,players, caoches, their fans, their colors, their band, and their stupid fight song, you just can't stand anything about them. I have to admit, though I have mellowed quite a bit over the past few years on that kind of thing, that even I, have produced a few sparks with my feelings, comments, etc. towards the two closest division 1-A schools to my alma mater Clemson, 60 miles to the southwest and 90 miles southeast. Really, I do much, much better with all that. I think having a fledging six year old girl, and a two year old son have made me realize all that stuff really isn't the things to die for. I still love the
Tigers for sure. It's just that I don't hate everyone else!
That brings me to my point about Union. Now, it could be my 'mellow-ness'. But I don't think so. With Union, except for a few "pockets" of overbearing fans, which I'm sure if you asked Union, they might say, yep, the same thing about some of ours, with Union, other than that they are very, very good, and that they beat you, there isn't a whole lot to hate! They play great football, they run an exciting offense, they have rabid fan support, (and again, you better get there early this week!) they have a great website (check the region 3 AAA page or the 2002 schedule page for the link) they have produced great players, and have nice coaches. We have talked to two of them on the air. Of course, Mike Anthony has done a phenomenal job and has been very gracious with us, and former Riverside coach Mike Hawkins is an assistant there and was always nice & helpful to us.
So what's to hate? Well, nothing.....except that they keep beating you. The last three Upper State Championship games "those" Yellow Jackets have kept "our" Yellow Jackets out of Columbia. The first year their offense was explosive. The next year we stopped their offense and allthough it was close, their defense was just too tough. Last year I thought we had a genuine chance to win it, but in the game was played in an aquarium complete with fountains, and I just knew the team that scored first would win. We had three chances to score first, but when they actually did, the 6-0 was our closest, but most painful loss yet.
How close is the gap now?
Hard to say, but as for common opponents we both beat Spartanburg, (their's was in game one on overtime, while our win was more convincing, but in a jamboree) they lost to Newberry 22-14, and we lost to them 25-20. Both of us think we played bad and should have won. We beat Riverside 55-3, and they beat them 55-0. So do I think we have a chance to break through? Sure do, but like most big games, whoever gets off to the best start, and who commits the least mistakes will probably win. When I say get off to a good start, that means coming out smoking! I've never been one to want to use the first two or three series to feel the other team out. I think you gotta do like we did the 2nd J.L. Mann game last year, and just start firing from the opening whistle! When you get off to a great start, it just seems like you are running down hill the rest of the game. Against Newberry, we were constantly running up hill.
Jacket Bowl IV will be exciting. I can't wait for it to start. I know as the BB&T Yellow Jacket Tailgate Show signs on at 6:00 on AM-800 the stadium will be getting full already, and that's fun too. It's "their's" againt "ours". Do I hate 'em? Nope. But I sure do want to beat 'em!!