ADENA — When Buckeye Local hosts Harrison Central Friday night on the natural grass surface at World War II Memorial Stadium in Yorkville, you can throw the records out the window. The two close-knit rivals will be competing in the 13th annual V.A.L.E.S. Trophy game and the pride that comes along with it.
Although the Huskies hold a commanding 10-2 advantage in the series which began in 2011, the contests have represented the acronym: Veterans. Athletes. Legionnaires, Education. Sportsmanship. After dropping the inaugural game in 2011, the Huskies reeled off nine consecutive wins in the series before the Panthers’ 25-0 win in 2021.
The V.A.L.E.S. Game is the second longest rivalry trophy in the Ohio Valley behind the legendary S.P.A.R.K.Y. Trophy in which Ohio Route 7 rivals Bellaire and Martins Ferry have played for on more than 100 occasions. Other Trophy Games include the Milk Bucket between Barnesville and Union Local and the Coal Bucket in which Harrison Central and St. Clairsville compete for.
However, something that the other three rivalry games don’t have is a quality luncheon for the senior players, coaches and members of each school’s administration at the American Legion in Adena. Each of the attendees were presented with a commemorative Challenge coin and baseball hat, courtesy of the veterans.
“Probably more than anything, we looked forward to this game as players and coached,” Harrison Central head coach Anthony Hayes said. “It’s been a competitive game the last couple of years. It’s been heated within the rules. Our kids have been looking forward to this game all year long, and so have I.”
Buckeye Local assistant coach Jack Otto represented the Panthers as head coach Jim Hoover was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.
“We are really excited about the game. The trophy the Adena American Legion has put together is a tremendous piece of artwork,” Otto said. “It’s something these guys have played for, no matter what the records are, for 12 years going on 13 now. It’s the final game to go out and get it, no matter what is on the line.
“It’s personal. It’s proximity. We’re very similar and that is what makes this a good rivalry,” Otto continued. “A lot of our players’ parents work together. A lot of them went to school together. We are two counties that are butted up against each other.”
Harrison Central won last year’s game, 45-34.
The Huskies (7-2) are currently ranked No. 4 in Ohio’s Division V, Region 17. They have already clinched a home game in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-8) have struggled this year but would like nothing more than to play spoiler in their last game.
All veterans will be admitted to the game free of charge by showing a military ID at the gate.
Kick off is set for 7 p.m.
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