By definition, a rivalry is defined as competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.
On the playing field, a rivalry usually involves two schools with a long history that are somewhat close to each other in proximity.
In this week’s edition of Friday Night Lights, two of the most storied rivalries in the state renew their battle on the gridiron.
Janesville Craig hosts Janesville Parker at Monterey Stadium for bragging rights and the Monterey Rock trophy.
At Evansville, the Blue Devils host longtime rival Edgerton in a Rock Valley Conference clash.
Adam Bunderson played in the battle for the Monterey Rock as the quarterback at Parker and now roams the sideline as Craig’s head coach. He knows the significance of beating your crosstown rival.
“There’s nothing that compares to getting your picture taken with that trophy,” Bunderson said. “That’s something you’ll always have.
“And when you lose, it’s very difficult to walk off the field while you watch the other team carry the trophy around and celebrate.
“You try to approach IT as just another game, but everybody knows it’s more than that.”
And although the games themselves are still the biggest of the season for those involved, the rivalries have lost some of their luster.
Edgerton has beaten Evansville/Albany only twice in the last 20 years.
Craig has retained the Monterey Rock in five of the last six seasons and now holds a 31-20 advantage all-time.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball or baseball, whenever we play Evansville in anything, it’s a big deal,” Edgerton football and baseball coach Mike Gregory said.
“Both communities are great supporters of all their athletic teams, and I expect Friday night to be a great atmosphere for high school football.
“Now, Evansville certainly has forged a great rivalry with Brodhead/Juda, as well, because of the competitiveness, but nothing beats Edgerton and Evansville.”
Ron Grovesteen has been a part of the Evansville/Edgerton rivalry for a long time as the head football coach of the Blue Devils. He said the fact that the game is being played before school starts isn’t as big of an issue as people think.
“Nowadays with social media, the word gets out,” Grovesteen said. “Brodhead had a great student body turnout for their home game against us, and I think you’ll see the same type of thing for us on Friday.
“I think every game in our conference is a big game, but certainly whenever we play Edgerton, it’s a special game with a lot on the line.”
Here’s a look at three area games on tap, as we wrap up the nonconference portion of the schedule in the Badger South, Southern Lakes and Trailways Large.
Janesville Parker (0-1) at Janesville Craig (1-0), Big Eight, 7 p.m., Friday, Monterey Stadium—The Cougars opened with an impressive win on the road at Beloit, while Parker’s offensive struggles seemed to carry over from last season in a 40-2 loss to Verona.
Parker coach Clayton Kreger knows the Cougars will try to put the heat on offensively against a Vikings defense that once again fell prey to too many big plays against Verona.
“Offensively, Coach Bunderson has done a great job for many years over there running his option scheme,” Kreger said. “We have to do a great job playing assignment football on defense. If we play unselfish defense and trust our assignments, it is going to be a great battle.”
Parker failed to find the end zone last week and struggled mightily on offense after an impressive opening drive that stalled inside Verona’s 20 yard-line.
“Our offense needs to finish drives and our defense needs to get off the field,” Kreger said. “Bottom line, we started 11 sophomores Friday night, and it is a huge jump from freshman to varsity football. However, we will stay the course, trust the process, and get better every day.”
Craig won despite four turnovers last week. The Cougars mauled the Purple Knights defensively and were sufficient on offense despite a rash of turnovers.
“Other than obviously trying to eliminate the turnovers, we won’t change anything this week,” Bunderson said. “Our linebackers and defensive ends played well, and our secondary made some big plays.
“Our goal is to be 2-0 after Friday night and to be able to hold onto the trophy.”
Best guess: Craig 27, Parker 6
Edgerton (0-1) at Evansville/Albany (0-1), Rock Valley, 7 p.m., Friday night, Evansville High School—Both teams stumbled out of the gate in Week 1. Edgerton gave up 57 points in its home loss to McFarland, while Evansville/Albany lost at Brodhead/Juda.
“This is a big game for both of us,” Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said. “The loser will be 0-2 and have their backs against the wall. You’d have to win five of your last seven games to be assured of a playoff spot and that’s not easy to do in our conference.”
Edgerton will be back at full strength after playing its opener without all-conference guard Jordan Leitz and its starting tailback.
“We had to do some shuffling last week without two key starters,” Gregory said. “We had to move Mason Simmons from wide receiver to tailback, and he led the conference in receiving last season.
“But that’s no excuse for giving up 57 points. We have to get better defensively.”
Evansville/Albany ran into a much-improved Brodhead/Juda team last week, but Grovesteen knows the key for his team this week is getting back to basics.
“We just have to do a better job of blocking and tackling,” Grovesteen said. “Our young guys grew up fast last week. Now they have to take the next step this week.”
Best guess: Edgerton 22, Evansville/Albany 14
Reedsburg (1-0) at Milton (1-0), Badger crossover, 7 p.m., Friday, Milton High School—The Red Hawks are looking for a carbon copy of last year’s start when they began the season 2-0 with wins over Sauk Prairie and Reedsburg.
Reedsburg allowed only 125 yards of total offense in its season-opening win over Monroe.
Milton pulled away in the second half last week in its win over Sauk Prairie.
Quarterback Danny Weitzel threw for two touchdowns and added 116 yards rushing for the Red Hawks in the win.
Best guess: Reedsburg 20, Milton 7
(7 p.m. starting time)
Janesville Parker at Janesville Craig
Madison West at Madison East
Madison La Follette at Madison Memorial
Beloit Memorial at Sun Prairie
Middleton at Verona
Turner at Big Foot
Clinton at Brodhead/Juda
Edgerton at Evansville/Albany
Jefferson at McFarland
East Troy at Whitewater
Milwaukee North at Delavan-Darien
Lakeside Lutheran at Elkhorn
Reedsburg at Milton
Orfordville Parkview at Belleville