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Joe from the block


Friendly rivals



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November 02, 2011 - It's funny how sports can bring friends together, even if you are rooting for opposing teams.

One of my best buddies from high school, Pete, moved to Farmington Hills with his family years ago, while we stayed here. We see each other a couple of times per year, if we're lucky. But Pete and I always trade jabs over the phone when Lake Orion and Farmington Hills Harrison face each other. His oldest son attends Harrison, so I really can't blame him for his newfound allegiance.

This year was no exception – Pete reminded me of the Hawks' top ranking. I reminded him that they were playing here this year. Unfortunately, Pete was busy and could not make it back home for the game.

After the Hawks' win, I humbly left him a message, although I told him it was not easy for them. He called me back a couple days later, gloated a little and told me we really needed to get together over the holidays.

A week later, friends of ours in Clarkston called to see if we were going to the big rivalry game. Of course we were. Scott and his four-year-old son wanted to join us. They even decided to sit with us on the visitors' side.

Young Jonathan was confused why everyone was rooting for the green-and-white team that week. By halftime, we had him rooting for the Dragons, too. (The candy I was feeding him surely helped.) When the Wolves pulled out the dramatic win, I ate some more humble pie. Scott graciously reminded me the two teams may meet in the playoffs. He also said we needed to go out soon.

We did go out that night after the game with our first neighbors, Mike and Jan. They were great neighbors, even if they are Cleveland Browns fans. They moved to Clarkston when we moved back to Lake Orion in the mid-1990s. We see them about once-a-year too, usually at soccer games. We caught up, drank a few beers like old times and traded stories about raising teenage girls. (I found out they act the same way in Clarkston.)

I also ate a piece of humble pie with Mike, noting the Wolves quarterback made some great plays down the stretch. He just said it was a great game. Believe it or not, he said how much he missed us as neighbors, even after 16 years. The feeling was mutual. We talked about getting together in December.

When the state playoff matchups were announced, it was a surprise to see the Dragons matched up against Walled Lake Central. (How did they end up in our district?) Very good friends of ours, Amy and Kevin, live out that way. We've watched each other's children grow up since they were babies. Our families camp and ski together each year. Now some of the kids are in college.

Amy brought a whole gaggle of teenage girls to last Friday's game. They parked at our house. My wife and Amy sat together at the game, while the kids went to the visitor's side of the stadium. As I walked home, I wondered if the Vikings fans would be waiting for me after their last second, upset win?

They were. and, as expected, the girls were excited. Who could blame them? They also were very polite. I was stuffed with the humble pie but ate yet another piece, congratulating them and letting them know that Clarkston was beatable.

Before leaving for the drive home, Amy told us the Walled Lake Central starting quarterback is a neighbor of theirs. The oldest of five kids, he lost his father a few years ago. How sad I thought. Something like that puts a football game in perspective real quick.

I guess nothing in life should be taken for granted – not one's family or friends, or the memories they provide. Once football season ends for everyone this year, I hope we can indeed get together – even if they were rooting against the Dragons.

They are, after all, friends.

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