CALUMET CITY | Dion Beecham and his T.F. North teammates would try on 100 pairs of wooden shoes if they thought it would help bringing back the Mushroom-Wooden Shoe Trophy back to Calumet City.
The trophy is awarded to the winner of the District 215 T.F. North-T.F. South football game. The trophy walked across the Little Calumet River in 2007 and hasn't made it back up Burnham Avenue since.
The two teams square off at 7. p.m. today at T.F. South.
The last time North won was in 2006, then it fell to the Rebels in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
"This game is something we will remember the rest of our lives," Beecham. "We never have beaten South and we certainly want to win because there is a lot at stake."
Beecham said there is the pride of representing the school, team, and Calumet City and Burnham.
"A lot of pride and we want to be the team to end the streak," Beecham said. "We have never beaten them at any level in football in our four years. We have to concentrate on playing football, but don't think that isn't in the back of our minds."
More than just the bragging rights. The Meteors are 3-2 and the Rebels are 1-3, but the luster is not off this game. North needs to win if it wants to be in good position to qualify for the postseason. South has lost two straight and its playoff chances are slim. A win over its rival would keep it in the playoff hunt and it is a win over the rival Meteors. South has won 14 of the last 15 contests.
"It's still in the back of our minds," North senior Demetrius Lewis said about going their first three years without beating South in football at any level. "The first thing is this is a big game because we need a win after last week (a 42-12 loss to Oak Forest). We want to make the playoffs and every game, every opponent is tough.
"The thing for us is do we believe we can beat South? To beat them, we have to believe it, but we also have to work hard this week and do what we need to."
Senior Claude Garrett said this is their last chance to come away with a win, but it will be even tougher on the road.
"We have a chance to redeem ourselves," Garrett said. "We didn't play well last week and we know South will be ready. Neither of us can afford a loss. This is a must-win game for both of us."
North defensive tackle Michael Ozoh said it comes down to one thing for he and his teammates.
"We have to work hard all week and not make mistakes -- mental or physical," Ozoh said. "This game is a big one, but is also important for us if we are to get into the playoffs."
Added teammate Adam Combs: "we just have to stay focused. We have had some adversity (injuries), but we have to play together."
Meteors coach Artie Rogers knows about rivalries. He grew up in Hammond and played for Indiana hall of fame coach George Hall at Morton. He also coached a season at Clark, where the rivalry with Whiting -- "The Battle of 119th Street." was the big game for both schools.
"I never knew how big that game was until I coached at Clark," Rogers said. "They told me if I won just one game, make sure it was Whiting. T.F. South is a big game, our rival and there will be a good crowd, but we have to focus on doing things to be successful."