It's time again for the football battle between the Sequim Wolves and the Port Angeles Roughriders, a game likened to the Rose Bowl, the Apple Cup, the Battle for the Little Brown Jug and the Super Bowl all rolled into one 48-minute battle on the gridiron.
It's just two high school teams from nearby towns but it quickens the heart, gets the juices flowing, the concession stand hopping and the fans from both schools put on the green and white and the purple and gold.
There is nothing at stake but pride and for the past several years, the Sequim side has dominated the gridiron. The Wolves have prevailed in three of the past five meetings since the rivalry was resumed after a long absence.
For Sequim coach Erik Wiker it's the sixth straight meeting but for new coach Dick Abrams, it's the first time against the Wolves. I hope he has gotten a feel for what the game means to both teams.
The Riders have their fourth head coach in the past six years and the football program that once was a yearly contender for Olympic League honors has had some tough years.
Without the stability of one coach and familiar assistants, players have been forced to learn a new offense and new defense every other year, while the Wolves have had one coach, one system and huge success under Wiker.
The success of the Sequim program has resulted in solid numbers for Wiker, while Port Angeles has struggled not only to field a varsity team, but also has not been able to sustain a junior varsity program to feed players into the varsity system.
A year ago, Port Angeles started the junior varsity program but canceled two games into the campaign when so-called jayvee players had to be given varsity jobs. This year, with less than 40 at the opening turnout and with several projected starters out
until the fourth game because of grade problems last spring, the Riders already have canceled the entire junior varsity program.
Wolves vs. Roughriders
_ 2004 - Dave Frisell was at the helm of the Rider ship and the series resumed at Civic Field in Port Angeles. Sequim was ready under new coach Wiker and pasted a 37-6 loss on the Riders.
Brian Savage scored two touchdowns, carried the ball 23 times for 204 yards and Sequim put some big hits on Rider players, which ended the season for a couple of P.A. stars. The Wolves had 400 yards total offense.
_ 2005 - Sequim was the home team at Civic Field and a huge crowd saw the Wolves take a 19-6 win over Matt Gracey's Riders. The Wolves scored in the first period, P.A. tied the game at 6-6 at the end of three. In the final quarter, Eric Zangara, a real workhorse who carried 29 times for 134 yards, scored on a 14-yard run with 5:06 to go.
Sean Dinius intercepted a Stephan Walker pass and returned 30 yards to seal the deal.
_ 2006 - Walker returned for coach Gracey at Civic Field and hit on 14 of 33 passes for 216 yards and Port Angeles won the shootout, 34-31. The Riders had a huge lead of 27-6 at halftime, then Sequim went on a tear, taking a 31-27 lead with 1:32 left in the game. Walker then drove the Riders 80 yards and capped the drive with a 38-yard pass to Levi Fahrenholz with 26 seconds left in the game.
_ 2007 - Bowing to a ton of pressure from
Sequim fans tired of making the trip to Port Angeles, athletic director Chris Olson negotiated the game to Sequim for the first time. A new P.A. coach was at the helm: Keith Moorman.
Port Angeles took a 27-20 win on a night for offense. Port Angeles had 475 yards of offense - including an 8-yard pass from Eric Lane to Jake Madison with 10:19 left in the game. The last 10 minutes was full of suspense as each team intercepted the other twice.
_ 2008 - Moorman didn't have many people left to run the wide-open spread offense and Sequim took advantage of the new P.A. defense to get a 17-7 first period lead.
Isaac Yamamoto scored on a 3-yard run, John Textor on a 32-yard pass from Drew Rickerson and a 35-yard field goal by Erik Huston after a 1-yard P.A. run by Troy Martin. Sequim's defense went to work and held the Riders the rest of the way while the offense piled up three more scores for a 38-7 win.
_ 2009 - Port Angeles again has a new coach in Dick Abrams, who comes from Stanwood. He's had success in rebuilding football programs, but this season may be a real challenge. Should be a great show Friday night, so be there, folks.