About 20 miles separates Lincoln and North Marion, but the 1987 high school football season is the last time the two teams played. The Cougars and Huskies will meet on the gridiron Friday.
Why so long between meetings? When the game ended 25 years ago, a massive fight broke out. One that is not easily forgotten.
"In the ball game, I think North Marion was headed into the playoffs and Lincoln went in and got the upset win," said currents Lincoln Football Coach Robert Herrod. "You have two communities that are very proud. They're very proud of their schools, proud of their programs. I think some words got exchanged, some things happened and it just broke loose from there."
"I think we were pretty much in, our '87 team, if we won that game," recalled current North Marion Football Coach Daran Hays. "It was the last game of the year. More or less, a fight just kind of broke out. From what I gather, it was more with people on the sidelines then the people on the field. Parents and people in the stands kind of flooded over to there and I believe there was a 10-year ban put on the game."
Coach Herrod was 7-years-old, Coach Hays was 3, but just like community members from both Shinnston and Rachel, they've heard the story their whole lives.
The 2012 season presented a unique opportunity to both squads: make amends for the past.
"Of course when the new numbers came out and we were 'AA' that made it even more intriguing," said Coach Hays about the decision to restart the rivalry game. "Because why wouldn't you play someone that was 20 miles away from you that was in the playoffs last year?"
"I've talked with Coach Hays a few times, that's not something that's going to happen," said Coach Herrod of the fight in 1987. "We'd like for it to get back to being a hard-fought rivalry where it's a good draw in crowds for both of us."
Lincoln and North Marion have turned this into a positive thing. On Friday night, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act will host a tailgate at Lincoln and make the message clear that fighting is not the answer.
"Because bullying and things of that nature, there's just no need for it," said Coach Herrod. "Both programs, I know, have a lot of discipline and a lot of respect for doing things the right way. So we felt that this is going to be a good opportunity to put those things aside; bullying, fighting those things. It's a competitive game and people are going to play hard and things happen sometimes but we know that those things are not necessary."
The video from the 1987 Lincoln vs North Marion high school football game was provided my Mark Loudin.