Having lived in Evansville for 10 years, I've really enjoyed some of the traditions we have here. Fried food up and down Franklin Street the first week of October is a real highlight of my calendar year.
When I married Jeff in 2007, little did I know that I would become immersed in the Evansville version of "Friday Night Lights," meaning Reitz Panther football! Jeff went to Reitz and played football for Reitz (I even have his ratty old jersey to prove it)! Jeff's buddies all went to Reitz and played football for Reitz. And now, I'm witnessing a whole new generation of Reitz Panthers as our neighbor's boy, Mason Schnarr is playing his first season of varsity football. And, he's doing a great job, by the way!
So, this year's annual Westside Showdown takes on a whole new meaning for us. Not being a native of Evansville, I look at this great old rivalry through a different set of eyes. I think back to my high school days in Madison, Wisconsin and remember well the bitter rivalry our school (Madison West Regents) had with the Madison Memorial Spartans.....BOOO!! The only thing we wanted to do was beat them at every opportunity. That being said, it's really kind of fun to witness the Reitz/Mater Dei football rivalry from the perspective of being a Wisconsin transplant.
I watched the game last night and saw several things. I saw how well coached both teams are and what quality young men suit up and play for their respective schools. I didn't see gamesmenship or excessive celebrating. Sure, you knew that both teams came out and played hard and wanted to win, but they played the game with pride and honor. These two teams genuinely respect each other and it shows up on the field.
Cody Hess scored a touchdown and turned around and simply handed the ball to the official. Can't imagine Randy Moss doing that! The same can be said for Matt McIntosh, Cuda Dimmett and Hamilton Carr. These young men play with a passion and commitment to excellence that is very refreshing to see. Congratulations to both coaches.....Tony Lewis of Reitz and Mike Goebel of Mater Dei. It was a special evening in the Bowl last night and I wish both teams well heading into the playoffs. It would be very special indeed if both Westside schools were playing for a State Championship over Thanksgiving Weekend!
Now that being said.......GO BIG BLUE!!