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Friday night, I was in the midst of a heated rivalry. This was my first experience with such a rivalry, and I could feel the tension in the air. The best part about this is that it all took place just 10 miles from my house.
Of course, I’m talking about the Marion County and Washington County football game that played out in Springfield.
As I roamed the sidelines at this game, I felt as though I was at something more than just a high school football game. The crowd was very amped up, and during that impressive third quarter by the Knights, probably could be heard nearly from Lebanon.
In fact, I heard Head Coach Jeff Robbins say on his Saturday morning coach’s show that for one of the few times in his coaching career, that he could actually hear the crowd and was not able to block them out.
Even though the Knights came out on the losing end, the game lived up to its hype, at least in the second half. Many people that have been following this rivalry for a long time said that this game was one of the most exciting match-ups that they can remember. Of course, we all remember last year’s defensive struggle in the mud that ended in a whopping 3-0 Commander victory.
These two teams have played each other nearly every year since the beginning of Marion County High School in 1970. The only years that these two teams did not face off were a four-year stretch from 1991 to 1994. Even with the back-to-back Knight losses, Marion County still holds a slim lead in the overall series, 20-18.
This series is as close as it gets when you’re talking about Marion County football. The Knights have faced no other team more than the Commanders in history. Nelson County is second with 33 match-ups followed by North Bullitt with 21. When the Knights and Commanders square off, you know it’s going to be a close game.
In their previous match-ups, there have been 16 decided by seven points or fewer, including seven of the last eight. When these two opponents tangle, the average score of the game is merely a fraction in favor of the Commanders, 0.15 points to be exact.
I can’t think of much of a better rivalry that crosses county lines. The rivalries that are contained within a county, Danville vs. Boyle County, Taylor County vs. Campbellsville, etc., may come close, but aren’t really the same. When you mention the names Washington and Marion in the same sentence, you can expect some heated conversation, at least.
Many people that may not follow the Knights closely throughout the season will come out in droves to attend this particular game.
This is one of those games that people seem to want to watch, even if they know very little about football. I guess bragging rights are important, and every resident within their respective counties likes to hold those rights until the next match-up.
I am already looking forward to the match-up next year between the Knights and Commanders.
One prediction I have is that it will be a close and exciting game, that we have become accustomed too.