Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

August 30, 2012

Another rivalry for the Beavers

BLUEFIELD — Most schools have at least one rival they’ve played throughout most of their history. Bluefield High School has two.

Last Friday the Beavers and Graham G-Men met for the 86th time. This Friday the Beavers will take on the Princeton Tigers for the 84th time for bragging rights in Mercer County.

The two teams first played in 1925 and have played every year except five, 1936 and a four a four year span between 1966-69.

Beavers head coach Fred Simon has a 17-9 mark against the Tigers and as a player in the 1970s he was 3-0 in the rivalry. Simon said playing rivals in back-to-back seasons to open the season creates a special atmosphere.

“You definitely get playoff-type situations quick, where you have to stay fired up,” Simon said. “You have got to play well and that’s what we have to do this week.

“It’s for pride in the county, that’s what really makes it special,” Simon stated. “You’ve got two teams, one is a cross-state rival (Graham) within five minutes, the other is within 15 minutes (Princeton) and it’s a game to show who is the better football team. That’s what this game means.”

Simon tells of a fond moment he encountered in the 1973 game, his senior year.

“I picked up a fumble and I raced like Johnny David did last week. If I had looked back I probably would have scored, but I raced about 50 yards and got caught at about the five yard line and a guy named McClarty caught me,” Simon related. “We played pretty good in that game and Princeton had a real good football team. Coach (Jeff) Boyles was a senior there, some other guys, Gary Frost and Teddy Wright, guys I played with at Concord, were seniors (at Princeton).

“Princeton didn’t like us and we definitely didn’t like them, but when we went to Concord it all changed. I found out they were some pretty good guys.”

For Beavers who are still playing, they look at Princeton as another foe which must be conquered.

Danny Miller is a senior lineman. He said, “The Princeton game to me is just as big a rival as the Graham game. Princeton, I think, has been a little bit more competitive with my class of seniors, going through middle school to high school, than Graham has, but it’s just as big a rivalry and it’s in-county too, so it’s for county bragging rights.”

Brandon Tabor, a senior halfback, said hard work on both sides should make it a good rivalry and Friday’s game should be a good one.

“I believe it is as big as Graham and the whole team thinks it is,” Tabor said. “Both teams have worked and prepared hard. We’re coming back from this loss (to Graham) and we’re going to do our best.”

Simon said the team didn’t need an adrenaline boost to get them up for Princeton, following last week’s loss to Graham.

“It’s Princeton. I think our guys will play well, they’ll play hard and last week is over. We haven’t thought about that much at all, we’ve just moved on,” Simon said.

Miller expressed his excitement about the game, which he has had since his middle school days.

“I’ve been playing against a team with the name ‘Princeton Tigers’ since my seventh grade year,” Miller said. “Winning the game would mean everything to me and my senior class to be able to get a ‘W’ this year.

“We will have to play hard, go out and execute our plays and the defense is going to have to tackle. We’re just going to have to play hard and play smart football.”

Tabor summed it up when he said, “It would feel amazing if we win. We’re going to try our best, go hard every play and not give up.”

Kickoff at Mitchell Stadium is set for 7:30, Friday. The Bluefield broadcast can be heard on Eagle 100.1/100.9, while the Princeton broadcast will be on Star 95.9.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com

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