Green River Star -

By Jack H. Smith
Staff Writer 

Bring back the green vs orange

 


It will probably go down as one of the best football games I’ve ever watched in person.

It was my first memory of the ultra intense rivalry between Green River and Rock Springs and it did not disappoint.

It was 1991 and it was a chilly night at Tiger Stadium in Rock Springs. Under the leadership of Mike Lopiccolo, the Tigers had a perennially strong program and had a long winning streak over their cross-county foes.

I can remember the Tigers taking an early lead on a Judd Williams interception and for a brief moment it looked like things would be status quo. The Tigers would win and the Wolves would have to wait till next season to avenge the loss.

Then the tides changed. In what may be one of the defining moments in the rivalry, Rock Springs came out of the halftime break with ACDC’s “Back in Black” blaring over the loud speakers. The song was fitting as they had changed from their home orange jerseys into black ones.

This did not sit well with Green River. They stormed back with strong play from J.J. Fernandez and Jason Pacheco and Rock Springs could not adjust.

A Pacheco field goal as time expired gave the Wolves a win and their student section ran onto the field in jubilation to celebrate the win.

After breaking the streak, it became a little more commonplace for Green River to beat their rivals, including twice in the Wolves’ 2004 march to the Class 4A State title under the direction of Jason Fuss.

There were times when one of the two programs were down, but that did not necessarily mean it would be a blowout game.

In 2001, Rock Springs was clearly the best team in the state and came into the game with a 6-0 record. If my memory serves me right, Green River was winless, but that did not stop them from giving the Tigers one of their closest games of the season that was still in doubt in the fourth quarter. It was the epitome of the rivalry. A clearly mismatched team giving it their all and nearly pulling off what would have been the biggest win to date in the longtime series.

I can remember my dad telling me there was a time the two teams were scheduled because things would get so out of hand between the student sections that school officials could not keep up with the chaos.

While that is not ideal, it just goes to show how intense it could become when one of the teams would make the 12-mile trip to go to battle, bringing hundreds of fans with them.

There were packed stadiums even when the southwest Wyoming weather did not cooperate. It was what football was all about. When the two teams play in other sports it’s always a battle, but there is something special about the two teams on the gridiron.

A state publication recently listed it as one of the top 5 football rivalries in the state and they nailed. It ranks right up their with any of them and in my mind is the best.

Than in 2011 the yearly match ups came to an end. Green River was dropped to Class 3A.

The rivalry in football is gone.

With the Wyoming High School Activities Association in charge of scheduling, it doesn’t look like it is coming back anytime soon.

This is garbage.

These two teams need to play every year in the Trona Bowl no matter what classifications they are in. There has to be a way to do the matchup.

I’m pretty sure it is something the players, coaches, and fans all want to see. The local high school football season is just not the same without these teams playing.

I really don’t think the fact that Rock Springs is in Class 4A really gives them any advantage over Green River. Sure they have a bigger enrollment and perhaps more kids on the team that generates a bit more depth, but once the game kicks off none of that will matter.

Let’s bring it back.

Both schools have amazing new fields that will never look right unless there is a sea of green and a sea of orange in the stands.

 

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