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Missing days of intense EU-Manteca rivalry
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Here we are nearly midway through the football season. The Raiders and Niners seem to be what everyone thought – one team on the rise, the other a shipwreck teetering on the brink. On the local home front, the Buffs appear primed for another playoff run while the Timberwolves attempt to turn their season around. Across town, the Lancers are struggling a bit.

The Lancers had started the year with a bit of promise, prompting one of my former MHS classmates to speak words I was highly unaccustomed to, roughly a month back. “Man I sure hope EU does good this year” said Lloyd. I was shocked to hear this come from the mouth of a former Buff gridiron star. But I’d seen this in former Buffaloes before. It manifests itself in different ways – from roaming the streets of Sonora shouting out Kirk Clifton’s name, to running through a horse stable in Oakdale with fingers pointed from head top like horns. But rooting for “The Other School” to have a good year?! I was ill equipped to deal with such madness.

Lloyd then took the time to more adequately explain himself. “I miss the days of it being just MHS and know, the good old days.” And it hit me, like a pass from Pete Nelson between the numbers...

 I also miss those days.

 Lloyd and I began to reminisce about the Cold War Era VOL Days. From 1967 to 1994 when the Buffs vs. Lancer game – in whatever sport – was the only game that mattered in town. Two opposing superpowers divided by rivalry – and Louise Avenue. It was pre-Sierra war time.  It was a much different era, when affiliations were much more obvious. These days the town rooting dynamic has completely changed. The three schools make it more a love triangle than the purely dysfunctional dating couple that existed between 1967 and 1994.

 I looked over at Lloyd, and noticed a single green tear run down his cheek. I watched as he penned this letter on the hood of his 1983 Mercury Cougar.

Dear EU,

Oh how I miss those days when it was just the two of us. Thinking about the last time we’d met, and looking forward to the next time we’d see each other. I was fixated with beating you so much that it bordered on obsessive love. But things have changed between us. Several years ago a new lady entered my life – fresh, blue and silver. Suddenly my attentions were not fully focused on you. Many in my family accepted this new school in a way they hadn’t with you — some even donning the silver and blue in public. It almost seemed an arranged marriage of sorts was being put forth. And soon my intense focus on you dissipated. I apologize for that.

 I remember as a boy hearing my dad speak about losing his one true VOL love. A woman that lived 10 miles to the west – went by the name of Tracy. He pined for years. “That new red and blue lass across town is cute, but she’ll never be old Tracy,” he’d say. I used to laugh on the inside at his pain. Not knowing that years later I’d be stuck with that same yearning – that same desire – the obsessive desire to always beat EU. Which is worse – suffering the way my father does, over a woman he no longer sees at all – or pining the way I do, over a woman I run into once a year?

 I realize it is partly my fault. I didn’t give you the attention you needed. But we both know it has changed. Seeing you lately at the yearly Thanksgiving Party makes me sad. You’ve put on weight, and seem to no longer care. This is par for the course for many an old split couple...but it doesn’t have to be with us.

 At the beginning of this football season I saw glimpses of the way it used to be. Remember those old days. When you didn’t even have your own place to stay? And I’d invite you over to my stadium for the night. And like a gentleman on certain nights, I’d sleep on the visitor’s side couch – even though we were in my home when the south side end zone had to be split by the Berlin Wall in order to keep political parties from meeting. When the build up to our Friday night date was too much for me to handle – not being able to sleep or eat the night before.

 Please find a way to return us to those magical moments. And I don’t expect it to happen every year. Will I ever get a second chance? I can promise you this...

 I will dump this silver and blue tart like yesterday’s trash if you’d only give me a reason. I don’t need her fancy ways, or success as of late. I only want to obsess on you. I’d give anything to have our end of the year date mean something. I avoid using Northgate Drive because it brings up too many painful memories.

 Can I be honest with you? Deep down the entire town wants us back together in an intense rivalry. Please take care of yourself. I know you can.

 Well I’ve said enough. I’ll see you in a few weeks. Please wear something nice, because my dad will be there. It gets tougher and tougher to defend you against his precious Tracy every year. And who knows. After the game if you show enough interest, and try hard – I may even visit your sideline after the game. Wink Wink.

 I miss you EU, and will always have a place in my heart to “hate” you – which is why I love you. We’ll always have 67-94.

 In sincere disdain, Lloyd Barbasol MHS Class of 91’