This Friday will be the eighth edition of the Hwy. 57 Helmet rivalry football game between North Daviess and Washington. Like every rivalry game, it takes a little time to get going and last year’s two-day, overtime victory was one of the most exciting since the Helmet game began.
This got me thinking about what have been the best rivalry games I have seen since I started with the Times Herald way back at the turn of the century. In my humble opinion, these are some of the games that helped make this one of the most special places in Indiana high school sports.
I don’t think I really want to try to rank them, but these are some of the games that I found most memorable. There have been plenty of other great games, but these stuck out mostly because of the intensity between the schools.
I think the first time is always the one you remember best, so I will go with the 2000-2001 Barr-Reeve-Loogootee sectional final, where Loogootee won on a last-second shot to break a 24-24 tie. I can honestly say that was my first true taste of basketball in Southwestern Indiana. I had never really seen the “slow-down” style before and that was one I won’t forget.
Later that spring, the same two schools met in the baseball sectional finals and it was just as impressive. Ryan Wirtz homered and was throwing a no-hitter for B-R, when Loogootee was able to scratch out an infield hit and plate a run to tie the game in the seventh and eventually win it in extra innings. Still to this day, this was the best high school game and one of the best games at any level I have ever seen.
Then of course there was the Barr-Reeve-North Daviess sectional basketball games of 2006, 2009 and 2010. If those games were not full blown rivalries before then, they are now. In fact, I have seen the Zupruder film watched with less scrutiny than the final seconds of some of those games.
There is one Washington-Washington Catholic baseball game that also makes the list and that was when current Hatchet baseball coach Steve Reed was still coaching the Cardinals. It was at the Hatchet Classic on a perfect May afternoon. Washington picked up the win, either 1-0 or 2-1, but I was truly a game for baseball fans.
The Hatchets have had some great games with Barr-Reeve over the last 15 years, but the double OT victory in 2009-2010, might have been the best of all. I think what made that especially significant was that both teams got to watch each other play in the state finals later that season. Full house, crazy fans, what a way to start off the year.
Although Lincoln is not a county rival, I believe the basketball win over Vincennes in February 2005 was the most important during the the whole championship run. Washington had not beaten Vincennes since 1999 and I feel like that game created enough momentum and confidence to dismantle Lincoln in sectional that year and start a run that ended in four state titles.
There have been several other great ones, some I was at, some I wasn’t. Barr-Reeve and Vincennes Rivet in girls basketball, the Lions and Vikes in volleyball and some great Class A softball sectional finals as well.
But it is time to back to football.
For North Daviess, those games with Linton in 2008 and 2009 were some of the best and most hearbreaking played between high school football teams - anywhere. Class A football played like 5A football with nothing left on the field.
If I had to pick a game for WHS, it would have been Hatchet over Lincoln in 2007. The 18-14 victory ended years of futility against the Alices and again served as a springboard into several successful years under coach Kelly Brashear, where he went on to beat every other team on his schedule at least once since then — except Jasper. Any guess on how big the celebration that will be after that one happens?
So bring on the Hwy. 57 Helmet game, who knows, this one just might make the list too.