There are those who think this weekend’s game between the Dawgs and the Gators is a big game -- and they would be right. But there’s no bigger game in Middle Georgia than the rivalry between the Warner Robins Demons and the Northside Eagles. The crosstown matchup began in 1964 when only 18,633 people called Warner Robins home.
Times have changed. The little town that began as Wellston has spread beyond the fields that surrounded Ga. 96. The western boundary goes beyond Interstate 75 and the city hosts the largest industrial complex in the state. The 2010 census said 133,000-plus people now call Warner Robins home.
Houston County High School was added to the mix in 1991 and Veterans High School in 2010. Even with all the changes, there is a constant. When Warner Robins and Northside clash tonight (Friday) at McConnell-Talbert Stadium, the records of both teams will not matter.
You see, football is not just a game played on the field by, in this case, adolescent young men. Rivalry games have an ethereal quality that can’t quite be explained. It runs deep into the DNA of both teams -- and the city. One of the oft repeated questions, during any time of the year -- by just about everyone is: “On which side of Watson Boulevard did you grow up?” The answer will either draw a friendly smile or friendly smirk.
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Games such as this unite rather than divide. The outcome will be the source of conversation until the two teams meet again.
While the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will be going on in Jacksonville, much of the discussion, even there, will be about which team won under the Friday night lights of McConnell-Talbert Stadium.