ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Once again we will witness a Marion/Hillsboro football showdown when the Warriors and Trojans tangle this Friday night in district play.
Most fans would agree that within the past 10 years or so these games have had a common theme: lopsided endings. In the early ninties, Marion ruled the roost. The past couple of years, the Trojans have been in charge.
I played sports in Hillsboro and battled against the Warriors my junior year in a lopsided losing effort.
After that season, the Warriors made it all the way to the state finals only to fall to Wichita Collegiate.
My Hillsboro/Marion experience was one of the most fun games I ever played in during my high school career-other than my senior season when we were absolutely squashed by DeAngelo Evans and Wichita Collegiate.
The game against Marion wasn’t significant because of big plays or highlight tackles, but because of the rivalry between the two schools.
I don’t think hate festers between Hillsboro and Marion football players, but the atmosphere of games like that are strongly competitive.
Perhaps the worst part about this Friday’s game is that both teams probably deserve to move on to the next level in the state playoffs.
Throwing Hesston (5-1) into the mix only makes the situation worse.
This may also be the last time Hillsboro and Marion compete against each other in football for some time. The Trojans and Warriors have been assigned to different districts for next fall.
And maybe that’s what makes Friday’s game so special.
Football fever is rising in both communities and why shouldn’t it-we have some great teams out there competing.
The thought of Marion and Hillsboro not playing each other during a football season is a sad one. Football is all about two teams wanting to win for their respective communities and schools.
Aside from their proximity, I don’t know why Marion and Hillsboro are rivals.
While covering the Warriors this season, I have been warmly received by everyone I’ve talked with. They’ve accepted this so-called outsider into the community.
On the first day of practice, Marion coach Grant Thierolf told me he would make a Warrior out of me this season. Although a reporter should try to be unbiased at all times, I have found myself cheering for the Red-and-Blue.
I was even jumping in the air and pumping my fist when Robert Verbic took a Jared Smith pass 85 yards for a touchdown against Sacred Heart to seal the win and the Cottonwood Valley League lead.
To Coach Thierolf and the Warriors-and the town of Marion-I say thank you. I’ve had fun this season.
And I imagine I will have fun Friday night, regardless of the outcome.
No matter why the rivalry between Marion and Hillsboro exists, I’ve learned something this football season: Marion and Hillsboro are both good communities, with good kids, good coaches and good schools.
I’m thankful to be a part of both.