Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 30, 2013

Game day! Big weekend for the Bluefields

— The wait is finally over. Today is game day in the two Virginias. And it’s just the beginning of what is shaping up to be a big weekend for the two Bluefields.

It all begins tonight with the long-awaited Battle of the Bluefields. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at a venue that’s been around for more than 70 years. Mitchell Stadium will once again be filled to capacity of more than 10,000 — and most of the seats will be filled well before the opening kick.

It’s a big deal, a party for football fans or those looking for a social event, an atmosphere normally reserved for venues like Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium or Milan-Puskar Stadium in Morgantown. And it’s right here in Bluefield tonight.

In many ways, Beaver-Graham — or Graham-Beaver, if you prefer — is the Daytona 500 of high school football in the region. It’s the biggest and most anticipated game of the season. It’s also the official kickoff of football season in the two Virginias.

Many will attend tonight in support of Bluefield High School. Many others will come in support of Graham High School. And others will attend the big contest with a neutral allegiance — simply hoping to see a good football game.

That’s how big the Battle of the Bluefields is — it’s a beloved, historic, gridiron meeting between the two Bluefields. It’s a community and social gathering. It’s a time of fellowship for football fans. The historic rivalry itself dates back to 1911. Bluefield won the 1911 game by a score of 17 to 5. The two teams didn’t play again until 1928. But in the 86 games of the series that followed, Bluefield leads with 62 wins, 22 losses and a pair of ties. The Graham G-Men defeated the Bluefield Beavers 23-21 in a gridiron thriller last year. The two teams will meet tonight for the 87th time.

If you can’t make it to Bluefield tonight, don’t forget that there is plenty of gridiron action to enjoy in surrounding communities. Tonight’s football schedule also includes Shady Spring at Princeton, James Monroe at Greenbrier East, River View at Mount View, PikeView at Summers County, Wyoming East at Mingo Central, Craig County at Bland County, Blacksburg at Giles, Grundy at Twin Valley, Haysi at Castlewood, Honaker at Lebanon, Auburn at Narrows, Gate City at Richlands and Tazewell at Virginia High. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. for all of the games.

Once the Friday night lights are dimmed, the fun will continue on Saturday with the first Lemonade Festival in Bluefield.  The hope  is that many of the thousands who attend the big game on Friday night will stick around Saturday to enjoy the activities. That’s our hope as well. It would be wonderful to have hundreds — if not thousands — pack downtown Bluefield Saturday.

Two days. Two historic gatherings. What a magnificent weekend for the two Bluefields. And it all begins tonight with the historic Beaver-Graham rivalry. Game day is finally here. Join us at the gridiron as history is once again made this evening.

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