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The Anatomy of a Rivalry

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Pride is on the line every time Marion and WC suit up

By John Overby

The two teams have district ties.

They don’t have any ties within the region, for football or volleyball.

But when Marion County comes up on the schedule, bad blood is to be expected.

Football Head Coach Eric Sagrecy, who played in the rivalry from 1997-2000, thinks that the biggest appeal to these games is that his athletes are always ready to compete.

“The kids are always prepared for those games,” Sagrecy said. “That always makes them a lot of fun, I think on both sides.”

Senior football players Dustin Harmon and Micah Devine agree. For them, this is the game that all of the players circle at the beginning of the season.

“I take that game more serious than any game of the season,” Devine said. “That’s the game I always want to win.”

“We get pumped up,” Harmon added. “Nobody ever gives up against Marion County.”

For the coaches, though, the rivalry is a bit different.

Volleyball Head Coach Anne Mudd said that she has “so much respect for Coach [David] Hibbard and their entire program, it’s just not much of a rivalry.”

Sagrecy feels the same way.

“It’s great for the kids involved, but Marion County has nothing but a class program,” Sagrecy said. “There’s no bad blood between the coaching staffs or anything like that. The rivalry’s for the players.”

However, that rivalry turned more intense last year but in an entirely negative light.

Vandalism was a source of controversy before last year’s matchup, as $3,000 worth of damage was done to WC equipment and Sagrecy, although unsure of the cost, knows that some damage was done to Marion as well.

But he and Marion Head Coach Jeff Robbins are positive that none of the players from either side were involved.

“It’s really just silly if you think about it,” Sagrecy said. “We’re relatively certain that it wasn’t even football players that were involved. It’s just kids trying to take advantage of a situation, an opportunity to get in the spotlight.”

Devine thinks that the past—both the positive and the negative parts—are the reason the game is so much to play in.

“Just knowing the history behind it, knowing who you’re going to play, that’s what makes it different,” Devine said. “Knowing it’s going to be a battle that night. I always lose my voice during that game, playing or not playing.”

Mudd thinks that her volleyball players just cherish playing a school that is so close to WC.

And that is especially true now that WC volleyball only plays Marion once a year, a contest that used to have a home and an away contest for each team, which Mudd attributes to allowing her team to play more opponents within their region.

But the one-game-a-year format may work in the rivalry’s advantage, as this year’s game was almost too close to call, with WC losing in five sets (25-23, 25-17, 16-25, 18-25, 15-13).

“It’s not an ugly rivalry,” Mudd said. “They want to beat each other, but when my girls go out there and they win, they’re psyched, they’re pumped up. And when they lose, they leave it all on the floor, but they just move on. It’s a fun game.”

The football games have also been close as of late, with last year’s contest coming down to a touchdown, the largest margin between the teams (with the exception of one 52-7 loss in 2009) since 2004.

But in Sagrecy’s day, the games weren’t as consistently close as they have been recently.

That has made things even more interesting.

“That rivalry has been kind of reborn,” Sagrecy said. “It’s much more intense now than it was then.”

And with only one game between the two in each fall sport, the stakes are even higher.

Losing is not an option.

“If we’re gonna lose any game,” Harmon started.

“…I don’t want it to be that one,” Devine finished.