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When Lynden athletic director Terry DeValois asked two-sport star Chris Bolt at the end of the last school year what moment he would like to go back and relive, Bolt didn’t hesitate.
The moment he chose had nothing to do with the Class 2A state titles the Lions won in football and basketball.
“He said he wanted to play the Ferndale football game again and try to beat them,” DeValois said in a phone interview.
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Bolt won’t get that chance, as he has moved on to Western Washington University, but many of his former teammates will tonight when Lynden travels to face Ferndale in the biggest annual rivalry game in Whatcom County. The Lions will try to avenge their only loss from last season, when the Golden Eagles walked away from Rollie DeKoster Field with a 28-21 victory.
Ferndale is hoping to have about 20 extra sets of bleachers in place to accommodate the nearly 4,000 fans expected to attend tonight’s game Ferndale athletic director Vic Randall said.
“It’s a good rivalry,” DeValois said. “It’s a game that our coaches look forward to and it’s a game that our kids look forward to … It’s intense from the Ferndale side and it’s intense from the Lynden side.”
Rivalries are what make sports thrive. They get fans’ and communities passions boiling and give each team one or two games a year to point to as “must-win games.” Think back on some to the most memorable football games at any level, and those games were either a part of a long-standing rivalry or ended up starting one.
Pretty much every school and team has an opponent they consider their rival. When I grew up in Loveland, Colo., there were two high schools in town, and you better believe we wanted to beat our cross-town rival in everything from football to raising more money at the charity bake sale.
“Rivalry games are what high school football is all about,” Randall said in a phone interview. “It’s what it’s been about the past 50 or 60 years. You play your rival and you really want to beat them. It’s really a fun time.”
Even though Ferndale is a football community and Lynden is considered a basketball town, both schools point to this weekend from the date that football schedules are released.
You aren’t likely to see much green being worn in Ferndale this week, and there won’t be many students in blue wandering the halls at Lynden High School either.
But there is something special about the Lynden-Ferndale rivalry: Lynden and Ferndale know how to be respectful of each other during rivalry week.
“This is a very good rivalry for both schools,” Randall said. “On the field, it’s very competitive. Both teams play extremely hard. Lynden fans want Lynden to win and Ferndale fans want Ferndale to win. When it’s all said and done, everybody walks away and can feel good about their school and their community. It’s a healthy rivalry.”
Rarely do you hear of school property in Lynden or Ferndale being defaced by opposing fans or fans’ support of their team turning negative against the other school or fans.
“It’s a respectful, high-interest rivalry,” DeValois said. “We don’t see a whole lot of negative things in this rivalry.
I think both schools and communities have a lot of respect for each other. It’s what a high school rivalry is supposed to be.”
But make no doubt about it, both teams, schools and communities badly want to win tonight’s game.
“This game means bragging rights for the communities and bragging rights for the schools,” Randall said. “This is the game you want to win.”