Best rivalry games in each state

  • Mark Tennis, Doug Huff and Sheldon Shealer [ARCHIVE]
  • ESPNRISE.com | August 25, 2009

You think the hatred between the Cowboys and Redskins runs deep? Compared to the nation's fiercest high school rivalries, the NFL's most intense rivalry has nothing considering some of the nation's top high school rivalries have been going on since more than 100 years ago, well before the NFL was even around.

Not all the best high school rivalries are that old. Some made the list because both schools have been dominant in recent years. Still others gained notoriety for the razor-thin margins of victory in seemingly every game. No matter what, all of the rivalries we selected are can't-miss affairs.

ALABAMA
Clay County (Ashland) vs. Lineville
The annual Clay Bowl has been played since 1921 with the two schools, five miles apart, separated by a creek and a bridge.

ALASKA
Palmer (Palmer) vs. Wasilla in the Potato Bowl
Wasilla graduate Sarah Palin has attended this game.

ARIZONA
Safford vs. Thatcher
This classic town vs. town matchup has been played since the 1920s.

ARKANSAS
Southside (Fort Smith) vs. Northside (Forth Smith)
This one is billed the Battle of Rogers Avenue and involves teams that have combined for 15 state titles.

CALIFORNIA
Garfield (Los Angeles) vs. Roosevelt (Los Angeles) in the East L.A. Classic
These two schools have been playing each other since 1925 and crowds have often surpassed 25,000. Alumni from throughout the nation and even the world are known to make the trip to be part of the tradition each year.

COLORADO
Mullen (Denver) vs. Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
Mullen broke an 18-18 tie in the series with a win in last year's Class 5A state final.

CONNECTICUT
New London vs. Norwich Free Academy (Norwich)
It's the nation's oldest rivalry, dating back to 1875.

DELAWARE
Middletown vs. William Penn (New Castle). These are also two of the state's largest high schools.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (D.C.)
Gonzaga vs. St. John's
These two Catholic rivals have been playing since 1918.

FLORIDA
Pahokee vs. Glades Central (Belle Glade) in the Muck Bowl
This selection also could easily be the Soul Bowl in Miami between Miami Northwestern and Miami Jackson, but since Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes is from Belle Glade we'll pick that one at this time.

GEORGIA
Valdosta vs. Lowndes in the Winnersville Classic
While the Wildcats have more tradition, Lowndes has tended to be more superior in recent seasons. Warner Robins (Warner Robins) vs. Northside (Warner Robins) is another of the nation's best rivalries, but would not be ahead of the Winnersville Classic.

HAWAII
Punahou (Honolulu) vs. Iolani (Honolulu)
This one goes back more than 70 years. Both schools won state titles last season with Punahou winning in Division I and Iolani in Division II.

IDAHO
Highland (Pocatello) vs. Pocatello in the Black and Blue Bowl
Last year's game drew national attention for questionable hit on star Highland player Taysom Hill during a kickoff.

ILLINOIS
Aurora East vs. Aurora West
The state's oldest continuous rivalry started in 1893 and West's Blackhawks lead the 116-game series, 55-49, with 12 ties.

INDIANA
Bloomington North vs. Bloomington South
This classic crosstown matchup has been contested since the 1970s.

IOWA
Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines) vs. Valley (West Des Moines)
These two are often among the best teams overall in the state as well.

KANSAS
Abilene vs. Chapman
These neighboring schools have been playing since 1892 in the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

KENTUCKY
Trinity (Louisville) vs. St. Xavier (Louisville)
The city's parochial rivals annually draw more than 20,000 when they meet at Papa John's Stadium. Last season, a series record crowd of 38,872 turned out as St. X extended its series lead to 34-30 with two ties.

LOUISIANA
West Monroe vs. Ruston
This Northern Louisiana rivalry has been contested for 55 years and for the first 40 years, Ruston dominated the action. Then, ex-Ruston athlete Don Shows took over the West Monroe program and the Rebels have prevailed the last two decades.

MAINE
Cony (Augusta) vs. Gardiner
The 131st edition of this series was played last year.

MARYLAND
Baltimore City College vs. Baltimore Polytechnic
The first game in this long-running series was played in 1889.

MASSACHUSETTS
Needham vs. Wellesley
The Thanksgiving Day game is the oldest in the nation between two public high schools with a starting date in 1882. The Boston Latin (Boston) vs. Boston English (Boston) rivalry is older, but the Needham vs. Wellesley series has been much more competitive.

MICHIGAN
Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (Novi)
If one of these two isn't among the best teams in the state, chances are the other one is.

MINNESOTA
Minnetonka vs. Wayzata (Plymouth)
The annual Battle for the Baybell Trophy has been contested since 1952 and matches two of the oldest high schools in the state.

MISSISSIPPI
Brookhaven vs. McComb
This series dates back to the 1920s and was contested for years on Thanksgiving Day afternoon.

MISSOURI
Webster Groves vs. Kirkwood
The oldest rivalry game and current Thanksgiving Day game west of the Mississippi River started in 1901 and has been played on the holiday since 1907. The winner is awarded the Frisco Bell, donated by the Frisco Railroad Company in 1952.

MONTANA
Butte vs. Butte Central (Butte)
The two crosstown schools have played each other for more than 100 years.

NEBRASKA
Millard North (Omaha) vs. Millard South (Omaha)
Millard West (Omaha) is strong as well, but the other two schools are older and have played each other more times.

NEVADA
Las Vegas High vs. Rancho
The Wildcats from Las Vegas High have dominated in recent years in what they call the Bone Game.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter) vs. Phillips Academy (Andover, Mass.)
Traditional New England prep school series goes back to 1878.

NEW JERSEY
Bergen Catholic (Oradell) vs. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey)
While Bergen has 16 state titles to Bosco's 11, the last three seasons have seen the Ironmen win the championship.

NEW YORK
Rome Free Academy (Rome) vs. Utica Proctor (Utica)
The state's oldest rivalry dates back to 1891. The rivals have met 116 times with Rome Free Academy holding the overall edge in victo

ries.

NEW MEXICO
Mayfield (Las Cruces) vs. Las Cruces
This crosstown classic played at New Mexico State's stadium annually draws 20,000 or more.

NORTH CAROLINA
A.L. Brown (Kannapolis) vs. Concord
These two neighboring schools have played since 1931 in the "Battle for the Bell" game.

NORTH DAKOTA
Bismarck vs. Century (Bismarck)
This inner-city showdown has created a lot of excitement in the area for the past 35 years. Bismarck, the older school, holds the winning edge.

OHIO
McKinley (Canton) vs. Washington (Massillon)
Since 1894, these two have met and it's normally the final regular season game for both. Every other year, the game is played just outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

OKLAHOMA
Jenks vs. Union (Tulsa) in the Backyard Brawl. This one is most often considered No. 1 in the nation over the last 10-plus years. Both rivals have tended to be nationally ranked when the game is played as well.

OREGON
Grants Pass vs. North Medford
Counting the seasons in which North Medford was officially known as Medford, these two have played more than 100 times.

PENNSYLVANIA
Penn Charter (Philadelphia) vs. Germantown Academy (Fort Washington)
The state's oldest rivalry started in 1887 and has featured 122 consecutive games. On the scoreboard, Penn Charter leads the way with a 78-33 advantage and 11 ties.

RHODE ISLAND
Stonington (Pawcatuck, Conn.) vs. Westerly
These rivals have played more games in a series than any other in America. They started the annual Thanksgiving Day contest in 1913 and played a record 150th game in 2008. Stonington holds a slight edge in the series, 68-64, with 17 ties.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Rock Hill (Rock Hill) vs. Northwestern (Rock Hill)
It's just a 22-21 edge for Rock Hill in a series that began in 1964. It will be interesting to see if the addition of new schools in the area diminishes this rivalry.

SOUTH DAKOTA
Red Cloud (Pine Ridge) vs. Pine Ridge
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is home to these two inter-tribal schools that have an intense football rivalry. The Pine Ridge Thorpes are named after famous Olympian Jim Thorpe.

TENNESSEE
Baylor School (Chattanooga) vs. The McCallie School (Chattanooga)
The oldest state rivalry started in 1905 but was canceled in 1940. It has been continuous since 1971. It's called the "Cross River Rivalry" because the two schools are separated by the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

TEXAS
Odessa Permian (Odessa) vs. Midland Lee (Midland)
In recent years, this matchup has been called The Friday Night Lights Game. Last year's game at Ratcliff Stadium in Odessa drew a crowd of 20,000 and saw Permian post a 35-17 triumph.

UTAH
East (Salt Lake City) vs. West (Salt Lake City)
Last season's matchup was the 109th in the series.

VERMONT
Rutland vs. Mount St. Joseph (Rutland)
The crosstown rivals from a city of 17,000 have played 75 games in the series with Rutland holding a 44-25 edge with six ties.

VIRGINIA
Episcopal (Alexandria) vs. Woodberry Forest
The series dates back to 1901 and is the longest consecutive rivalry in the state. Woodberry Forest leads the competitive series with a 52-48 edge plus eight ties.

WEST VIRGINIA
Morgantown (Morgantown) vs. University (Morgantown)
These city rivals have stepped up their competitive game in recent years and are regular state contenders. The annual game between the Morgantown Mohigans and University Hawks is dubbed the MoHawk Bowl and attracts large fan turnouts.

WASHINGTON
Kent-Meridian (Kent) vs. Auburn
These schools from neighboring communities have played every year since 1908 and the all-time record is almost 50-50 in wins for each. Auburn has won the last 10 straight years, however, keeping the Taylor Trophy.

WISCONSIN
Marinette vs. Menominee (Menominee, Mich.)
The oldest inter-state rivalry between two public high schools (Menominee is actually across the border in Michigan) started in 1894 and matches "twin towns" separated by less than a mile of water and a bridge, which adds to the intensity of the rivalry.

WYOMING
Natrona County (Casper) vs. Kelly Walsh (Casper)
These are the two schools in Casper and when they meet the sparks fly. Former vice president Dick Cheney once played for Natrona County in this game.

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