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This past week we got a taste of what makes high school sports great - rivalries.
In particular, we saw Neligh-Oakdale take on Clearwater-Orchard in both volleyball and football, on homecoming week no less. This go around, the Cyclones were able to get the best of the Warriors in both match ups.
What separated the battles from other games this season was the atmosphere during the games. When teams like Clearwater-Orchard and Neligh-Oakdale get together, there is always an added sense of urgency throughout the room. The people in the stands, most of whom took part in those battles themselves when they were in school, seem to cheer a bit louder. The celebrations on the sidelines get a bit more powerful. The coaches are just a bit more intense.
Rivalries are what drive the competition of high school and even college sports. The best rivalries are the ones fueled by towns that are in close proximity. The kids all generally know each other. They know the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent. They always want bragging rights and, usually, the best rivalries involve some light trash talk.
You can never expect to be able to predict what will happen in a rivalry game. The added motivation that comes with bragging rights can not be understated. That’s why it is understandable when coaches and players feel a little bit more intense about the end result.
This state is full of great rivalries. The Millard Schools. Kearney and Grand Island. Omaha Skutt and Elkhorn South. Chambers/Wheeler Central and Burwell. Neligh-Oakdale and Clearwater-Orchard.
Rivalries are the best part of high school athletics. Locally, the Cyclones won this round, but the fight isn’t over. Neligh-Oakdale will soon flip the script again. The fight will go back and forth for a long time.