The us-versus-them tenor of high school football will hit a crescendo this fall along the Union-Mecklenburg border.There will be plenty of games where Union and Mecklenburg County schools face each other, and the games could be meaningful in the context of winning conference and state championships.Passions will be high and there will be a host of subplots because the schools, in most cases, are just a few miles apart. The county line is the divider.Consider this:• Porter Ridge lost by a single-point in the state 4A finals last season. Now they’re in a new conference that includes Butler (the state 4AA title holder), Independence (which has multiple state titles), Myers Park, East Mecklenburg, Rocky River and Garinger. Garinger is the only school not considered close to the Union-Mecklenburg border.• Sun Valley also made the 4A playoffs. It lost to Porter Ridge by a point in the state semifinals. Sun Valley will play Porter Ridge again this season. They’ve already played Charlotte Christian, the state champion among private schools, in the first game of the season at Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium. Sun Valley will travel just across the county line to play Rocky River in September. Monroe, which lost in the semifinals of the 1AA state playoffs last year, also will play Charlotte Christian.• In the state playoffs last season, Weddington and Marvin Ridge both lost to Charlotte Catholic, which made it to the state championship game. This year Weddington opened the season against Ardrey Kell and will take on Charlotte Country Day during the regular season. Marvin Ridge will play Ardrey Kell and Rocky River. I could go on, but you can find the various schedules and pick the games you want. Of course there are the traditional cross-town rivalries within Union County. They’ll also be intense and well supported.But things get a bit spicier when the schools are from neighboring counties and the students familiar. The schools along the Union-Mecklenburg line can’t ignore each other. Some of the players know each other from playing in the same recreational leagues, going to some familiar hangouts and even shopping in the same stores.Bragging rights – that’s what will make the games intense. The chance to say, “We beat y’all.” And someone’s going to say it, loudly, for a whole year, to people who will hate hearing it.Mecklenburg schools doesn’t need to play Union to gain respect for the quality of its high school football. And Union County doesn’t need Mecklenburg; it has its own reputation. Go look in the trophy cases at Monroe, Sun Valley, Piedmont and Forest Hills. But the landscape has changed over the past decade. Now there’s Marvin Ridge, Porter Ridge and Weddington. They’re all relatively new, and they’ve done the work to become strong, competitive football programs. There are no weaklings in this county-line competition. They’ll all bring their best to see who’s the best. And that could be a high note for the area’s prep football.
Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013
County-line rivalries add spice to football season
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