Ten football rivalry games that still matter

Photo: Michael Karas, Northjersey.com

Ten football rivalry games that still matter


Ten football rivalry games that still matter


These 10 games have everything a rivalry game needs. We’ve concentrated on longstanding games between nearby rivals where at least one of the two teams has won a state title in the past five years and neither team has won 65% or more of the games.

  1. St. Xavier (Louisville) vs. Trinity (Louisville)

Trinity has won 14 of the past 15 meetings but holds only a 45-37-2 edge in the series, which began in 1956. The teams have won 36 state titles between them, including Trinity’s 38-21 win over St. Xavier in the 6A state championship last season. The regular-season matchup, played at the University of Louisville, regularly has crowds of 30,000 or more.

This year’s game: Sept. 28, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

  1. Jenks, Okla. vs. Union (Tulsa)

The teams have played 57 times and every year since 1976 except for 2011. For the last 14 seasons, the game has been sponsored under the name, the Backyard Bowl. Jenks holds a 35-22 edge in the series. One of the two teams won Oklahoma’s large school title every year from 1996 to 2016, a streak that was broken last year by Owasso. Though there were only 11,917 at last year’s game, it has drawn as many as 40,000.

This year’s game: Sept. 7, Chapman Stadium, Tulsa University

  1. Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) vs. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.).

The rivalry, which has been played since 1958, got a little hotter last year when Bergen Catholic, with former Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toal on the sideline as an assistant, broke a three-game losing streak to the Ironmen. DBP holds a 28-23-2 edge in the series. The teams have won 33 state championships between them and the last six meetings been decided by an average of 5.6 points.

This year’s game: Sept. 22 at Bergen Catholic

  1. Glades Central (Belle Glade) vs. Pahokee, Fla.

It’s difficult to explain how big the teams’ final regular-season game, called The Muck Bowl, is to anyone outside of western Palm Beach County. The area, long known for producing future NFL players, is also one of the poorest in the country. Pahokee has won seven state titles, not counting the 1A state title it had to vacate last season because of an ineligible player and Glades Central has won six state titles. Glades Central, which plays in a Class 4A to Pahokee’s Class 1A, leads the series 23-14.

This year’s game: Nov. 2 at Pahokee

  1. Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) vs. St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)

It may be the oldest rivalry game between Catholic schools in the country, dating back at least to the 1890s, possibly earlier, and played every year since 1928. It continues to be a big game as the teams faced off last season for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship. Gonzaga leads the series 46-44, but St. John’s leads 4-0 when the game is for the WCAC title, including last year, when the Cadets took both meetings, including a 30-7 win in the WCAC title game.

This year’s game: Nov. 3 at Gonzaga

  1. Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) vs. Hampton, Va.

Phoebus and Hampton have played in “The Battle of Hampton” since 1976 and Hampton has a 32-18 series edge, though Phoebus has dominated the series this decade. Between them, the teams have won 24 state championships.

This year’s game: Oct. 13, Darling Stadium, Hampton

  1. Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) vs. Detroit Central Catholic (Novi, Mich.)

Easily the best rivalry in the state, the teams have combined for 19 state titles. DCC took a 31-30-1 edge in the series with a 27-23 victory last year after winning 28-21 win in double-overtime the year before.

This year’s game: Sept. 22 at Brother Rice

  1. Mayfield (Las Cruces, N.M.) vs. Las Cruces, N.M.

The teams have each won eight state titles and Mayfield holds a 29-24 edge in the series, which has been played 54 times since the series began in 1967 and regularly draws crowds of 20,000 or more at Aggie Memorial Stadium at New Mexico State.

This year’s game: Nov. 2 at Mayfield

9. Holy Cross (New Orleans) vs. Jesuit (New Orleans)

This will be the 98th meeting between the teams with the series dating to 1922 and the winner receiving the Golden Football trophy. Jesuit has won eight state titles, the last in 2014 while Holy Cross has won two state titles. The series has been competitive with Jesuit leading 56-39-1 but Holy Cross has won three of the past five meetings.

This year’s game: Sept. 28 at Jesuit

10. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) vs. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Though these two Trinity League teams have played 32 times, this wasn’t much of a rivalry until recently, with Mater Dei dominating the series 25-9. In recent years, however, it is the hottest game in the state, with the two teams meeting twice each year, once in the regular season and the second time for the CIF Southern Section Open Division title. The past two years the winner in the second matchup has gone on to win the state title.

This year’s game: Oct. 12 at Santa Ana Stadium.


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