When students hear “rivalry week” at Northwood, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Jordan-Matthews. JM has always been a major rival for Northwood, but with the switch to the 3A Big Eight athletic conference from the 2A Carolina 12 conference, new rivalries have been found. For many of the spring sports at Northwood, the new rival is Orange High School.
“We look to crush Orange every time we play them,” junior baseball player Conner Leinbach said.
Before Northwood joined the Big Eight, the only sport that had Orange on its schedule was lacrosse. This game was not initially a rivalry, but it has now emerged into the most anticipated game of the year for lacrosse fans and players.
“The games against Orange have gotten easier because we have gotten better, and I believe we have figured out how to prepare for them,” junior lacrosse player Eric Franklin said.
When Orange is on the schedule, it usually means more than just a win is at stake. These games are traditionally for better seeding come playoff time.
“The Orange game means more to us for the simple fact that the final playoff spot is usually on the line,” Franklin said.
The Orange game seems to get the players more animated and ready for game time.
“We get extra hyped and work harder in practice when we see Orange coming up,” senior lacrosse player Jacob Orbich said.
Lacrosse is not the only Northwood sport affected by Orange. Orange also affects baseball and softball. This may be partially due to the massive Twitter arguments leading up to game time.
“There is a lot of trash talking on Twitter, mainly because we know a lot of their guys and it’s just fun to pick at each other,” senior baseball player Peyton Walker said.
The teams like to boast and brag about what they can do on the field, and it has added a whole new aspect to the rivalry.
“The trash talk on Twitter has added an ‘eat your words’ aspect to the game; you don’t want to lose after you talk trash,” Leinbach said.
When a game against Orange is coming up, players often seem to do extra work and go the extra mile in practice.
“They always have tough competition, and we always compete really well with them,” Walker said. “Knowing that it is a big week for us, we like to do scouting reports on their pitchers and practice against their pitches.”
The Orange game in softball is also important for playoff seedings. This makes the game more significant.
“We are the two strongest teams in our conference; this game makes or breaks our conference rankings,” junior softball player Kayli Blankenship said. “The Orange game increases the level of focus within our players; we try to clean everything up and work on our mentality going into the game.”
Whether it is the old rivalry of Northwood and JM or the new rivalry of Northwood and Orange, the intensity will always be at its peak for rivalry week.
– By Jailen Leach