I would image T.F. South head football coach Tom Padjen and T.F. North football coach Artie Rogers didn't have to do much to fire up their teams for tonight's District 215 "Civil War."
If you are a player on either team and you need to be motivated for this game, you might want to have your pulse checked. I get pumped up just thinking about it.
This is one of those rivalries that will be talked about forever. If you are the hero who leads your team to victory, you probably have everyone in town wanting to buy you a steak or at least a pizza or hamburger and fries. Everyone shakes your hand and pats you on the back because you beat those hated rivals.
It is about tradition and that rests in the Mushroom-Wooden Shoe Trophy that goes to the winner. Last year, North won 16-14 in overtime and "The Shoe" returned to Calumet City for only the third time in the last 21 years. South also won two playoff games, meaning it has won 20 of the last 23 meetings.
South is 2-1 and North is 1-2, but you know what they say about records for this game. The Rebels have won two straight since dropping their opener to Class 6A No. 1 and Times No. 2 Crete-Monee. Though Urban Prep Charter West and Hillcrest are not powerhouses, South went out and won the games and did what it needed to do. A win tonight would not only make them 2-0 in the South Suburban Blue, but it would keep the momentum going. After last year, the Rebels want back into the playoffs. If the players take North lightly, well, remember last year.
The loss was part of a four-game losing streak in a disappointing 4-5 season. The Meteors used it as catalyst to a 6-3 regular season and their second straight playoff berth. For North, this can be its turnaround game as it looked lethargic in a 47-8 loss to Tinley Park. The Meteors do not have but 12 seniors, so it is important for those 12 to step up.
North would love to win two in a row in the series for the first time since 1989 and 1990. The seniors would love to take that legacy with them. If you are a South senior, you do not want to leave knowing your class lost twice to your biggest rival.
There will be that special atmosphere tonight at Wilbur Petree Field. It will be loud and hopefully a good game. There have been blowouts and there have been great ones with exciting endings like last year's contest in Lansing. In big games, someone usually steps up and makes a big play. It may be the game-winning touchdown or it may be a big defensive play that stopped a drive in the early going, or a key block that turned a small gain into a big play.
Or there was the year when then-North coach Tim Zasada decided to show up just before a 2006 playoff game. The bus got stuck in traffic and ended up shearing off a chain link fence of a house.
It's T.F. North vs. T.F. South. Anything can happen.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.