Rivalries becoming hard to find

There was a time when rivalries were easy to find in the Upper Peninsula.

Wherever you found a school of any size, you could find a nearby rival school without any trouble.

Mass City had a rival a few miles away in Rockland. J.A. Doelle and Chassell, separated by nine miles, were fierce rivals. Ditto for Dollar Bay and Lake Linden-Hubbell and White Pine and Bergland.

But today, there are just a few rivalries alive.

School consolidation is the main reason that many of these rivalries have vanished.

And co-op programs have taken their toll as well. If you don’t agree, look at the situation in Gogebic County.

Students from Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield recently formed to become the Gogebic Miners. Also consider that Ironwood and Bessemer were once Class B schools and Wakefield was a Class C power.

Oh, Negaunee and Ishpeming still go at it hard in every sport. And Iron Mountain and Kingsford are sworn enemies.

But the Hancock-Houghton rivalry is a unique one.

On Friday, the Bulldogs and Gremlins will meet in the 65th Copper Bowl.

Actually, the two schools began playing each other in football in the early 1900s. The Copper Bowl wasn’t started until 1953.

The football meeting of the two schools will draw a large crowd with all the fan hoopla associated with it.

But the two schools also compete just as hard in the Wing-Ding held in February, with hockey the main draw.

I’ve covered the past couple of Wing-Ding games and, believe me, they were intense contests. Last year’s wasn’t settled until Houghton won in overtime.

So, if you’re looking for an old-fashioned rivalry, check out some Hancock-Houghton meetings.