Eric Peterson, Published August 28 2009
Rivalry rarity: Fluid movement in sections, classes makes it difficult for teams to form long-standing rivalries
A perennial Minnesota power, Hawley head coach Peder Naatz said his team’s biggest games recently have been against Pelican Rapids and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
Neither of those teams are on the Nuggets’ schedule this fall.
“I think that’s the nature of the football beast right now because of the section realignments,” Naatz said.
North Dakota has faced similar rivalry issues. The state changed from three to four classes in 1997. Since then, there has also been ample team movement within those divisions.
“I think the four-class system really, really took care of some longstanding rivalries,” Lisbon head coach Robert Bubach said.
Breckenridge vs. Wahpeton
This border battle between neighboring towns has all the elements of a strong rivalry. Proximity, longevity, competitiveness and both towns have solid football traditions.
“The towns kind of shut down and that’s the event for the night,” Wahpeton coach Mike McCall said. “What makes our rivalry our rivalry is just the sense of community pride and the kids and everybody wanting to have those bragging rights for one year.”
Wahpeton Superintendent Mike Connell said the earliest record he has of the teams playing each other in football is 1930, but he thinks the series likely started before that.
West Fargo vs. Fargo South
While Fargo North is the more traditional rival for South, the Bruins and the Packers have ramped up their gridiron rivalry in the last decade.
Since 1998, the Bruins and Packers have been two of the most dominant forces in Class 3A. West Fargo won four of six state title from 1998-2003. South has played in the last five state title games and won three of those. The rivalry dates back to 1972. South holds a 7-5 edge in the last 12 meetings.
“When you play West Fargo, you know they are going to be one of the most physical football teams you face,” South coach Kevin Feeney said.
West Fargo coach Jay Gibson said the rivalry started to build when the Packers started having success, which has been helped by the school’s growth in enrollment.
“I don’t think they even took us serious about 10 years ago,” Gibson said.
Lisbon vs. LaMoure-Litchville-Marion
The towns are 35 miles apart in the southeastern quarter of North Dakota.
Even though the teams haven’t always been in the same division, the rivalry has remained continuous over the last two decades. The teams have only had a couple of seasons where they haven’t played each other since the mid-1970s. Both programs have played in a state title game in the last 10 years.
“Usually year-in, year-out, it’s been a competitive thing,” Lisbon coach Robert Bubach said.
Bubach said there was about a 15-year window in the series where the home team won the game.
Joel Bickford is the new head coach for LaMoure this season. Greg Hermes was the Loboes head coach for the 20 years prior to this fall.
“Within those last 20 years, we’ve had some very exciting football played between the Loboes and the Broncos,” Hermes said.