Some rivalries just seem right. One might not know how they started, but it doesn't matter.
Rivalries can be born many different ways. They can happen based on geography (Girard-Liberty), pure dislike (Mooney-Ursuline) or just based on years of knowing its your rival (Champion-Lakeview). But no matter how they start, some rivalries will never die.
And every once in a while, a generation can see a rivalry born, which I have yet to experience in my lifetime. But, with the announcement Tuesday of the Harding-Howland football contract, I'm hoping this game continues for much longer than its contracted two years.
Think about it. These two schools, the two largest in Trumbull County, both have football traditions stretching back many years and probably have two of the largest fan bases in the county. I guarantee it will be standing-room only next year when the two teams meet at Richard Lombardo Stadium.
Also, based on geography, the cross-town rivalry aspect is evident. The traffic between Elm Road and East Market St. come Week 3 of the 2010 season will be a joy.
Plus, neither team truly has a "rivalry" game on its schedule anymore. Howland's biggest rival has been John F. Kennedy, but the two teams are no longer playing (again). And Harding hasn't had a "local" rival since WGH and Western Reserve combined in 1990. The two teams need each other to generate local hype.
Lastly, and call me a geek, but I bet the halftime show between the two bands will be outstanding. Perhaps maybe a drum-off? That would be fun.
With the announcement of these two schools going at it for the next two years (and hopefully longer), it got me thinking about other area football teams that don't play each other, but probably should, because the rivarly would become one for the books.
First, since John F. Kennedy doesn't have a rival anymore (don't get me started on the 'No one will play Kennedy' argument), I think a good fit for Tony Napolet's Eagles would be the McDonald Blue Devils.
The two teams are almost always in the playoff race each year in Division VI, Region 21. So think about it, each year fans can get an early playoff preview between two of the best teams in the area and at playoff time, if the stars align right, the two could rematch in Weeks 11 or 12.
The second rivarly stems from the oldest type - sibling. Tom Pavlanksy's Lakeview Bulldogs against big brother Mike Pavlanksy's Canfield Cardinals.
Besides bragging rights at the Pavlansky Thanksgiving dinner, the two schools are a good fit as well. Both are always in the playoff hunt in their respective divisions and both play hard schedules and could benefit off each other's computer points.
Plus, I can hear the student sections now with chants of "Tom/Mike is better." It would be a fun occasion.
And lastly, I feel bad for Niles. I've lived in this area for 28 years. I've been working in the Tribune sports department for the last three and I can honestly tell you I have no idea who Niles' "big" rival is.
Is it Howland? That would be the natural choice based on its yearly schedule. But the Niles-Howland game never gives off the excitement that Howland-Kennedy, or next year, Howland-Harding generate.
The Red Dragons need a rival. A big one. One that will bring all those Niles' football fanatics (you know who you are) back to Bo Rein Stadium and with them some excitement back to the Niles' football program.
Hubbard would be a good fit based on size and continuous talent. Or maybe Mineral Ridge considering they are geographically located pretty close to each other.
Or how bout, yes, I'm going there.... John F. Kennedy? That's right. I said it.
I know, I know. It will never happen. The reason John F. Kennedy and Niles will never play again is like a fifth-grade fight that people are still mad about at their 20-year reunion. Neither party remembers why it started, but they do know that it hasn't ended.
But, all that stigma lurking in the air between the two teams is what makes this a perfect "bitter rival" storyline. And, like I said, the Eagles are now in need of a rival again.
I know it will never happen. But it sure would be fun.