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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsThe Hot Stove

The Hot Stove: One last Cortaca Jug for senior class

Winless. I’ve been there before. When I walked off the field as a senior high school football player for the last time on Thanksgiving 2010, my team was just defeated by our longtime rival Northbridge High School for the fourth consecutive year.

Aside from one junior varsity game, I never got the experience of winning against Northbridge on Thanksgiving. The turkey never tasted as sweet during those four years.

Here I am four years later looking at a similar predicament for South Hill’s football team — four straight losses in the Cortaca Jug against SUNY Cortland, and I have not seen the squad defeat the Route 13 rivals in football as a student even once. I have less control over that now that I don’t play football anymore, but regardless, it’s not easy to see your school lose in the biggest and most attended football game on the schedule, year after year.

And that’s my biggest concern with this rivalry — that the balance is tilting in favor of Cortland. Though, to be fair, three of the last four contests between the two teams have been decided by six points or less. But in the end, it’s the result that matters, and the fact still remains that like Congress, the red side has been more victorious recently than the blue side.

Sure, people will continue to show up and partake in the Cortaca festivities, but I feel that losing a fifth straight game against Cortland would take a little bit of air out of the rivalry. The rivalry remained strong even after the South Hill squad took home the jug 20 times between 1973 and 1995, but in a modern-day rivalry, people want to see parity and a back-and-forth rivalry not dominated by one side.

Still, this year’s contest will also contain a series of historic moments and coincidences that make this game special. For starters, this is the last time Cortaca will be a non-conference game. In 2015, Cortland’s football team will become a member of the Empire 8 conference with the Bombers. While the game still has playoff-ranking implications, it will also have conference implications beginning next season.

At the same time, several of my classmates and I were born in 1993, and since then, the Blue and Gold and Cortland have won 10 Cortaca Jugs each. But Cortland has never won five consecutive games in the overall series, while the Bombers have done so twice in the series.

Regardless of the result, memories will be made, and the sun will rise the next day, but it would certainly be nice to see the football team go into Cortland and beat the Red Dragons on the road for the first time since 2008.

Who knows? Maybe this Cortaca matchup will turn out to be the biggest little game of the decade.