Welcome back to Phil for the Game, your glimpse into the sports community of Boone County.
As basketball season is in full swing, I have one last bit of gridiron news that I’d like to discuss before we completely focus on the hardwood throughout the county.
Class A Sherman High and Class AA Scott High School will renew their rivalry football game in 2020 when Scott travels to Seth, and the Tide will trek to West Madison to face the Skyhawks in 2021 as part of a two-year contract signed by coaches Michael Showalter and Shane Griffith.
Anyone who has ever played in this game knows what a rivalry it once was. As a Tidester, I can remember the details of a 6-0 loss to the Skyhawks as a 1989 senior in the 1988 season at Zontini Field more than any game I covered in 2019. We had opened that season with a 14-13 loss to freshly consolidated Tolsia (Fort Gay and Crumb high schools) in their first-ever football game, then beat Ravenswood 17-6 before falling to Duval on a last-play-of-the-game bomb to running back Eric Flowers. Now this abomination — a 6-0 loss to our rival.
It may have been 31 years ago, but I remember that Scott quarterback Frank Moneris wore prescription goggles inside his helmet. I remember Matt Mitchell and Davey Rowe being as tough as pine knots. I believe it was Rowe who scored the only touchdown in that game. I remember that we dropped a beautiful pass in the end zone that would have tied the game and set us up for a win with an extra point attempt from Jamie “Homeboy” Lipford. It rained all week. It was homecoming and the field was a mud bath.
See, I just made my point. Rivalry games are forever.
Coach Griffith, a year behind me in school, played in that game as a junior for Scott.
Sherman holds the edge in the storied series, 47-38-5. coach Griffith said renewing this game was something he initiated with Coach Showalter and thought it was the right time for both schools to line up on the gridiron once again.
“I’ve played in that rivalry and my brother (Todd) played in that rivalry and my dad played in it for Sherman,” coach Griffith said with a laugh. “I’ve always understood the value of that game. When you schedule a game, you’re looking for playoff potential and does it provide the ability to improve your playoff potential. It needs to provide excitement within the school and the community. Scheduling a game has to financially make sense for your program and scheduling Sherman makes sense for us.”
Both teams went 1-9 in 2019, but I look for both squads to be vastly improved, which makes the game more interesting.
“I’m the one who eliminated that rivalry and we replaced Sherman with Bluefield on the schedule,” Griffith added. “I saw an opportunity at that time to put Scott football on a bigger stage and we played them at Laidley Field two straight years. It felt like the right thing to do and when I look at it now, we need to build some excitement within regular-season games and we need story lines beyond the norm. The only thing Sherman doesn’t provide is Class AA playoff points as a Class A school, but you could drive the narrative that it is a good time for both of us to play again.”
Showalter, who also played in the series as a prep athlete at Sherman, said it was a “no brainer” to schedule the Skyhawks in week four. The Tide already have cross-county rival Van at Zontini Field in week eight in 2020 for the “Showdown for the Shovel” rivalry game.
“I’ve wanted to get this going again,” said Showalter. “Our biggest obstacle is the fact that they play nine Cardinal Conference games. Sometimes I think people don’t realize what goes into scheduling a football game. You hope you can find a week to match up and the contracts work out right. I’m just incredibly excited.”
Showalter believes that a good game and a great gate for both schools will be had.
“It has a long history and people are already excited about it,” he said. “Our kids haven’t seen the whole Scott-Sherman rivalry. Van has been our big rival. I’m excited for these kids to see the passion for this game and our boys are talking about it. I think they see how important it is to represent our school in this game.”
I’m going to leave you this week with one of my favorite sports-related quotes.
“I bring my wife on road trips because she’s too ugly to kiss goodbye.” — Former NFL coach Bum Phillips.