Water is the source of life.
Evolutionary biologists believe microbacteria in water was the earliest life form. Space probes have been sent to Mars in search of water that may signal that life could be supported on the planet. And each year the Nile River floods, pouring thousands of gallons of water and nutrient-rich silt onto the shores of the parched deserts.
Oceans away in Fairmont, West Virginia, the Monongahela River cuts through the center of town, cutting it into two regions: East and West. This artery flows with a the life blood of a rivalry.
“No matter what sport is played, you’re going to have an East-West battle,” East Fairmont boys’ soccer coach Fred Roman said. “Some consider it the oldest rivalry in the state. Having been part of it, the tradition of that river makes a big difference in sports.”
The rivalry began in 1921, back when many of the players’ grandparents or great-grandparents were in school, presumably walking uphill both ways to get there.
It’s history remains relevant to this day.
“It's the most important game on the schedule,” Fairmont Senior coach J.L. Abbott said. “When I was hired in 2005, coach (Bob) DeLorenzo told me he didn’t care how we did all season, but there were two games we had to win. We had to beat North and we had to beat East. Period.”
As an outsider, I had heard stories about how veterans used to march through the town when the game was played on Nov. 11. Stories of 0-0 grudge matches. Even stories of a murder that took place during the game.
But I never experienced it ... until last night.
The East Fairmont Bees (and their giant inflatable mascot) were pumped up as they ran through the tunnel, greeted by a packed East-West Stadium crowd.
“What side?” The cheerleaders screamed.
“East side!” responded the boisterous student section, which included Superman and The Incredible Hulk decked out in body paint.
Shortly into the game, Fairmont Senior quarterback Austin Norman tossed a deep pass to Luke Hrapchak that slipped just through the tight end’s fingertips.
“Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” the East Fairmont student section jeered, referencing the fact that Hrapchak transfered from East Fairmont to Fairmont Senior at the start of this season.
The remarks from East Fairmont’s student section weren’t the only low blows or cheap shots in the game. In total the referees called six personal fouls.
“I still have a lot respect for East Fairmont,” Hrapchak responded after the game. “They might not have a lot of respect for me, which doesn't bother me.”
As the game wore on, Fairmont Senior pulled away thanks in large part to Hrapchak’s 167 yards and two touchdowns. The two gentlemen sitting next to me in the press box took an early exit.
Dominick Postlewait, an 11-year-old decked out in East Fairmont gear, hopped into one of the vacant seats. While the Polar Bears built their lead to 41-13, he vigorously cheered every play, hoping for a miraculous comeback.
“I can’t remember a game where East Fairmont won,” he said.
Seeing the rivalry for the first time, I had to agree. The game that was billed as East Side vs. West Side turned out to be decidedly one-sided, with Fairmont Senior pulling away 41-13 to win its sixth straight and extend the all-time mark to 58-28-7.
Postlewait hoped he might have better luck by the time he made it to the high school.
“My dad calculated that when I’m a senior it will the the 100th year of the rivalry,” he said.
As I walked off the field, they pulled the plug on the blowup Bee while a man standing nearby patted the East Fairmont players on the back.
“Next year starts tomorrow,” he said as they walked to the locker room— like their blowup mascot— deflated.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.
Water is the source of life.
- Prep Sports
North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament
A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins
The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.
East can’t overcome No. 7 Lincoln, falls, 4-0
Thunder clouds weren’t the only thing looming over the East Fairmont (6-6) softball team Monday when the Lady Bees hosed No. 7 Lincoln. Joining the ominous clouds was a sense of urgency for energy that never showed up as Lincoln was able to shut out East Fairmont, 4-0.
Kesling’s bat powers Polar Bears
When Fairmont Senior’s Johnny Kesling stepped into the batter’s box this past week, it was game over.
North Marion’s rally falls short
North Marion had all the pieces in place for a thrilling come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon.
The four runs in the bottom of the seventh. The tying runner on third and the Huskies’ fastest player on second. Even the clear-blue sky on the mid-70s afternoon was the perfect stage for a comeback.
Giorcellis share important piece of tennis tradition
You always hear the phrase “pass the torch.”
When those words come into your mind, you generally think of someone older, wiser and more experienced passing something along to someone younger, the next generation.
Huskies’ sixth-inning comeback falls short
It ain’t over till it’s over.
North Marion (3-4) proved that, despite falling to Elkins, 13-8, during its home opener Thursday night from North Marion High School.
After falling behind, the Huskies proved that you can still take something away from a late-inning rally despite taking home an “L.”
Coaches support WVSSAC ruling
West Virginia educators took a major step toward extending the summer practice period for high school sports earlier this week.
The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission board of control voted to extend the current three-week window by five weeks.
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