Friday, August 31, 2001

Kings, Mason friends and foes

Knights-Comets rivalry fierce

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        KINGS MILL — When the Kings High School football team practices, the Eiffel Tower at Paramount's Kings Island, located just inside Mason, looms high in the background.

        When Kings students want to go out, they invariably head to Mason's attractions such as Paramount's Kings Island or The Beach water park, or to the movie theaters and restaurants located in Mason but largely absent from the bedroom communities that make up their own Kings School District.

        Their Warren County high school nearly sits on the Kings Mill and Mason border,and though students from both communities often socialize, they may not tonightwhen their respective high schools square off in an annual border war.

        Bragging rights for the last three years have belonged to Kings High School. Even though the school has about half the number of students as Mason — 910 compared to 1,821 — and fields a Division II team, the Knights have beaten the Division I Mason High School Comets in each of their last three meetings.

        But it's a rivalry bred more from proximity than animosity, say football coaches, school officials, students and residents in both communities.

        “Our western border is their eastern border, so it's a competition for bragging rights,” explained Kings High School Principal Douglas King.

        Upscale Mason, with its high-profile amusement parks, many other attractions and large corporate offices “gets a lot of publicity ... and sometimes people look past Kings,” he said of his smaller school district composed mostly of the qui et communities of Kings Mill, Landen and South Lebanon.

        “It doesn't sit well with a lot of people here,” Mr. King said. “The kids in both communities know one another and they hang out together, but it doesn't mean the game is not intense.”

A true rivalry

               Kings Football Coach Andy Olds, who is in his fourth season and undefeated against Mason, described tonight's game as “a rivalry in its truest sense. This will be a great game for both the communities.”

        The Knights are 1-0 after a tough away win last week against Springboro High School, 17-7.

        The Comets lost last week at Galbreath Field in the first prep game for all of Ohio when the Lebanon Warriors broke open a close game in the third quarter to defeat them 51-19.

        The teams will battle tonight in a renovated and expanded Dwire Field on the Mason High School campus. A sellout crowd of more than 6,000 is expected and Kings senior Taylor Garvin plans to be there.

        “It's always the game of the year. Everybody at school has been talking about it all week,” said Taylor.

        The pre-game buzz extends into the Kings Mill neighborhood, where Knights fan Ken Jupp plans to make the short drive to Mason with his family to catch the game.

        “Considering that Kings is Division II and that Mason is Division I, another win for Kings would really be something,” said Mr. Jupp, who lives near Kings High School.

"Magic in the air'

               Long-time Mason resident and Comets fan Fred Stemmler has backed the football team for more than a quarter of a century. The 71-year-old retiree is the co-founder of the Mason Senior Pep Club, whose more than 200 members will be out in force tonight.

        “The Kings game is definitely the big one. There is a real magic in the air when we play them,” said Mr. Stemmler.


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