1. LIBERTY CENTER vs. PATRICK HENRY: Although it was not politically correct to use the term after Sept. 11, 2001, this heated confrontation, annually staged before midseason, was dubbed the "Henry County Jihad" when it was at its boiling best in the late 1990s.
Whether the game is played at Liberty s Tiger Stadium or on the Patriots field in Hamler, the crowds in recent years usually top the total population of both school communities.
2. ST. FRANCIS vs. ST. JOHN S: Don t tell these two City League Catholic school enemies that some Henry County duel matches the animosity surrounding their big-school battles at the Glass Bowl each fall. There are more than bragging rights at stake here, as some undecided junior high CYO stars of the future sometimes can be swayed by which program is dominant.
3. BELLEVUE vs. COLUMBIAN: Minus a few years here and there, this one typically decides the Northern Ohio League title in most recent years. Bellevue has won or shared seven NOL crowns in the past 10 years, while Columbian has won or shared five.
4. MAUMEE vs. PERRYSBURG: As the cliche goes, "You can throw out the record books" for this one each year. The best team in a given season doesn t always win, and there have been some big upsets in the series. Passion usually rules this Maumee River War.
5. NORTHVIEW vs. SOUTHVIEW: They have shared a stadium, at the Northview campus, and a degree of resentment for one another since the former Sylvania High School split into two schools in the mid 1970s. The two schools do have district boundaries, but largely open enrollment for Sylvania students can make this a neighbor vs. neighbor affair for some players.
6. CENTRAL CATHOLIC vs. ST. FRANCIS: The Battle for the Irish-Knight trophy has a longer history than SF/SJ, but its more onesided nature in St. Francis s favor in recent years has made it No. 2 in Toledo. Although the outcome remained the same (Irish losses), the games in 2001 and 2002, when the CL title was on the line in one and playoff advancement in the other, restored some luster.
7. DEFIANCE vs. NAPOLEON: This one s the oldest in the area, but its week-one timing costs it in season significance, and the two teams also play in different leagues. Still, for an opener, it s pretty darn good, and both teams have often been playoff qualifiers in recent years.
8. ARCHBOLD vs. WAUSEON: This annual Fulton County battle is an oldie, but still a goodie. Each are headed up by veteran coaches, John Downey in his 26th year at Archbold and Mark Emans in his 15th at Wauseon. Both schools/coaches have produced state championship teams, Archbold in 1988, Wauseon in 1993.
9. OTSEGO vs. BOWLING GREEN: This traditional Wood County season opener takes on a David-vs.-Goliath feel with the schools separated by two divisional classifications. But don t tell that to rural Tontogany and Grand Rapids, because Otsego has more than held its own against the bigger Bobcats in this series. Both schools have had consistent success in their leagues over the years.
10. START vs. WHITMER: The "Battle of Tremainsville Road" was interrupted for a while, but was restored and is an interesting neighborhood matchup. Whitmer s dominance has has soaked up some of the potential zest, but now that both are City League schools, the best rivalry years may be just around the corner.
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