The Games That Shaped Me IV: My Rivalry

I grew up in with a unique background with my mom and dad’s respective families. My dad was born and raised here in Madrid, graduate in the Class of 1990 and went on to play college football at Graceland College in Lamoni. He is also a lifelong Iowa fan.

My mom was born and raised just across the Des Moines River in Woodward, Iowa. She went to high school at Woodward-Granger, who just so happens to be Madrid’s biggest geographical rival. She went on to attend Iowa State, along with her four siblings…and their three cousins.

To say I had conflicting interests in school loyalties growing up was being conservative. I was in the middle of a heated in-state rival and a heated cross-river rivalry: Iowa-Iowa State and Madrid-WG.

It was settled early on that my brother and I would attend Madrid schools (both parents were in agreement it was for the best). Me, my brother, and eventually my sister were growing up as Tigers, but the older I became, the more I grew weary of my perceived “unnerving ties” to the enemy.

During my time in elementary school, Madrid and Woodward-Granger did not meet a single time on the gridiron due to Madrid’s being Class A and Woodward-Granger’s being Class 1A. The state also refused to pair the two in non-district play.

The talk only grew as Madrid not only maintained it’s dominance, but Woodward-Granger finally rose to become a formidable foe in the late 2000s into the early part of this past decade, not losing a game in their 1A district for three-plus seasons from 2010 to early 2013.

The year 2012 brought the rivalry back to fruition as the Hawks came back down to Class A. It was a huge event, it was broadcast on Mediacom 22 (or “national TV” depending on who you ask) and The Jungle was to capacity. Everyone expect a whale of a game.

Photo: Abbi Erickson

It was hardly a contest.

It was the craw in the stick of the 2012 season for Madrid, which saw the Tigers drop to a 5-5 record, their worst since 1989. It was quite the position for my 8th grade self to be in, I got to see first hand how the ol’ ball coach would go back to the drawing board and right the program.

But, I also dealt with the fallout effects from this beat down. Family gatherings with my mother’s family for the next year were miserable, all I ever heard about is how Woodward-Granger had kicked Madrid’s ass. As a kid who loved his high school’s football team, to say it pissed me off would be an understatement.

I wasn’t the only one who forgot the beatdown. My freshman year showcased a “Revenge Tour” schedule, and at the top of that priority list was that team across the river.

Now I had no ability of affecting the outcome of this ballgame, I was rather slim, 6’1, 210 lbs freshman not nearly ready for the varsity field. But the ones who were on the field held a bad disposition for that team just like I did.

To that point, I had never seen a team as focused and ready for a football game as that one. They were on a mission, not just to beat Woodward-Granger, but beat them and rip their hearts out. A Michael Jordan-like mentality if you will.

Two hours later…

…sheer, unadulterated ecstasy.

The game was never a contest, Madrid dominated from start to finish in a 44-8 blowout and to loosely quote NFL quarterback Joe Theismann, we handed their backsides to them on a tray and the tray was bent.

To that point, I had never felt joy like that night in my athletic career. It was monkey off the backs off almost everyone on that roster and on the coaching staff. It served notice that despite a down year, the Madrid Tigers were back and back with a vengeance.

Oh, and the family members that ribbed me for the past 365 days? They didn’t want to talk about it, they wanted to converse about something else. That put a grin the size of Texas on my face. I made sure to never forget how awful it was to hear about losing to WG, and throughout the rest of my athletic career, I never heard about it again.

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