Alex Banks

When you hear the term “rivalry week,” especially in football, that automatically means for the player to strap the pads on tight and make sure that helmet is well-secured because this is about to be an intense 48 minutes battling for the honor of your town and that special item both teams fight for.....The Chief, in the case of Orestimba-Gustine.

For me, an introduction into the Newman-Gustine rivalry started at a young age, when we were told by our coaches to take this game very seriously.....more seriously than any other games.

Being a former Orestimba Warrior, sure this game meant a lot to me when I was playing but now for me it’s all about seeing two teams showcasing talent, and let the better team win.

The Chief is the prize you get for winning, along with bragging rights for the year to come. I know The Chief means a lot to both these schools, and the fight for who gets to keep it is always intense. The Chief to me was something big, something I took to heart because we were not just fighting to win this game, we were battling for our town and our school and all the alumni who want to see their school come out on top. 

Playing in this game was to leave everything you had on the field, and to hit that man across from you hard.

I remember preparing for it like it was yesterday, every year listening to the coaches’ stories of the rivalry they had. You just listened to it and let that pump you up every day of practice until Friday hit. Come that day, it would hit me so much differently than any other game,  just as I’m sure it did for my teammates and the Gustine players. I had some years where I was so excited or I was just so ready for the game I didn’t even sleep until four or five o’clock in the morning.  I laid awake, constantly playing the powerful messages heard from alumni or coaches in my head over and over while also reviewing plays in my mind and remembering the formation they ran on defense. It was s a great feeling of anticipation.

For every player who steps onto the field Friday night, I know the feeling is beyond description. You get off that bus, strap on the gear and hear the roars of cheering from fans on both sides of the stands. With a student section on each end zones, the atmosphere feels like a college bowl game.

We won some and we lost some in my playing days. You always want that win but with a loss in this game (trust me) you feel in your soul like you lost someone close to you. That’s how I felt because I truly loved the game of football. I’ve experienced the pain of loss and I experienced the times the entire school body ran onto the field and we celebrated as a big family. 

As my last season for the rivalry game came about in high school we ended up losing the rivalry game. It hurt to lose The Chief because we all know that’s the sign of who the better team was, despite how the rest of our season played out.

Funny thing, though.

Some of the opponents I despised so much when playing the rival game wound up being great friends, during and after high school. I never thought I would see that day....having fun and enjoying friendships with players from Gustine.

My advice for the players preparing for this game, from both Orestimba and Gustine, is to just leave everything on the field, but remember to create memories with all your brothers out there and cherish the moment, especially if you’re a senior. Always remember that in football anything can happen....play how you know how to play.

Good luck to both teams Friday.....we’re hoping to see a great game!