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Rowley: Big game about history, not 'revenge'



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August 24, 2011 - There is no doubt that Oxford's Wildcats will be ready for its opening game on its new blue turf.

There is the excitement about the new one-of-a-kind field and also the anticipation about meeting the school's cross-town rival, the Lake Orion Dragons, whose last win in 2010 was the Division 1 state championship.

The Wildcats and Dragons met last season in the first game of the year, which renewed a rivalry that had been on hold for 27 years.

During those years, Oxford dominated the Flint Metro League before coming to play in the Oakland Activities Association in 2010.

The Cats got a rude welcome to the OAA as Lake Orion dominated the game, 45-6, and took back the Double O Trophy, which had resided in Oxford for the past 27 years.

Oxford Coach Bud Rowley is not making any kinds of predictions but he said his squad was not accustomed to being beaten so badly.

"There isn't a revenge factor but it is tough to take a shellacking like that. But, this is not about revenge. This will be a great test for us.

"They are our cross-town rivals. The kids see each other often and know each other. This is for the bragging rights of northern Oakland County."

Rowley understands that there are legacies and histories that are part of the game. Players, coaches and families from each community will talk about the games for many years.

"Our seniors will graduate in 2012 and even when they come back in 10 or 20 years, this game will be a part of their history. Some of our players might marry a girl from Lake Orion and vice versa. This game is part of the history of our communities."

For Rowley, the enthusiasm from both communities and teams is great, but he knows it still comes down to the players on the field.

"Football is a game of mistakes and turnovers and you have to learn to play through those mistakes. Usually, the teams that can do this will be the winners."

The Wildcats and Orion fans seem ready.

"It's gonna be a blast," Rowley said.

Lake Orion Coach Chris Bell was quite complimentary when speaking about the Wildcat football program.

"Oxford will play power football, lining up and running the ball behind a big offensive line," he said. "They will try to ram it at us. Our defensive line is going to have to play tough."

"They have some big, experienced skill players that we'll have to control," Bell noted.

Like everyone else, Bell couldn't help but mention Oxford's new blue field.

"We're very excited to play Oxford this weekend with its new blue turf," Bell said. "But, we try to not get too caught up in all the excitement. It's a long season."

Lake Orion Review Editor Joe St. Henry contributed to this story.

Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.
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