GREEN BAY (WFRV) – Not many rivalries in high school football span a century or longer.
It takes a truly special contest, however, to play every every single year through the world’s ups and downs.
Perhaps no season since World War II presented more of a challenge to the East-West rivalry than 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But thanks to the alternate spring season, the rivalry adds another consecutive season to its triple-digit streak.
“It’s honestly unbelievable,” West coach Skylar Liebzeit said. “You know all the history the United States has had in that timeframe, and to continue to have this game that’s stayed consistent, the two teams that have always been the red and the purple.
“I mean honestly words don’t even describe the history that’s behind it.”
East leads the all-time series 62-49-3, and despite the fact West hasn’t won a game in the series since 2014, the game still carries plenty of weight for the players and coaches.
“”It would mean everything,” West senior Jack Hemery said of the prospect of getting a win. “In my varsity career, I played football, basketball, track, I’ve never won a game against East – and we’ve got to get one. This is my last chance.”
Another dynamic carries a new chapter into the historic rivalry – two first-year coaches. West’s Liebzeit and East’s Levi Nelson have looked forward to the marquee game since before the fall – and now that the moment has arrived, both are looking to make the most of it.
“Back in the summertime when guys visualize about the season ahead, I think they think about this game coming up, you know?” Nelson said. “This game means so much to my family that my in-laws are flying in from Philadelphia to watch our baby so that my wife can come to the game.”
“It gives us, both the coach over there and myself, a great opportunity to start a new chapter in this rivalry, to have a lot of fun with it, and continue this long history,” Liebzeit said. “115 meetings in a rivalry is unheard of even across the country.”
Without a doubt, the rivalry itself carries a little juice for the players, too, and a century of history provides some extra motivation to earning the first win of the season.
“There’s a long history of rivalry between us, so it means a lot,” East senior Cedar Fuson said. “It’s a big honor to be a senior here and just go all out.”