Some football games are soon forgotten, while others live in our memories forever.
Salesianum versus St. Mark’s is always a memory-maker.
Ask any player involved in “The Big Game,” from the first in 1972 to those playing this year, and you’ll begin to understand the importance it has at the time and often years later.
Like all great rivalries, coaches don’t need to provide motivation for the players. I had the privilege of coaching in 29 Sals-Spartans games and always witnessed outstanding effort on both sides.
Like the players, I have memories of every Salesianum-St. Mark’s game I have seen. But there are certain outstanding efforts that stand out for me. I was hooked on this game my first year at Sallies when a goal-line stand preserved a 7-0 victory in 1975.
My first year as a varsity coach in 1977 was highlighted by a 21-0 win. In 1983, Salesianum seemed overmatched, yet beat the Spartans 13-6 in one of the hardest fought games I can remember.
Our tournament-bound team in 1987 showed tremendous resolve, driving the length of the field late in the fourth quarter to earn a 7-3 victory.
Finally, I remain in awe of our historic two-touchdown comeback in the final five minutes to beat our rivals 18-17 in 1996.
As a coach and fan, I have always loved this game for the competitive nature, over-the-top emotion and lifelong memories it provides.
Regardless of records, this game has always been played in a championship atmosphere. School and fan interest is unmatched. It is a big-time game full of big-time plays. All of these things and more have made it the healthy rivalry it remains today.