The Cowhide - A High School Football Tradition
Across the country are hundreds of high school football rivalries. Each might lay claim that it is special in many ways. In the heart of the great central valley of California is one such rivalry that is exceptional in its power over the people who have been part of it.
Two high schools, Redwood and Mt. Whitney, began playing an annual football game against each other in 1955. The 50th game of this traditional rivalry was played in 2004 before 10,000 fans and a live television audience. The two schools, located only a few blocks from each other in Visalia, California, a city of 100,000 people, have maintained this intense rivalry for over 50 years like very few school have ever done. The game is played before a packed stadium every year and the community claims it as the biggest event during the entire year.
Thousands come back every year for this one game, most of them alumni and former players in a gigantic homecoming affair. The pre-game pageantry tops many college games, often with fireworks and skydivers. If a team wins this game, the entire season is successful.
The game is called the Cowhide, because the teams play for an old cowhide bolted to a board. The winning team keeps it for a year and the year of the victory is etched under the school's name. Over the years, families have had complete loyalty to one school, but others have had their loyalties split as differnet generations become involved with different schools
Part 1 explores the history of the Cowhide game, relating the early humble beginning when the original high school split into two schools. The evolution of the game over 50 years is explored. Using hundreds of questionnaires, newspaper accounts, and many interviews with those involved over the years, the real meaning of the Cowhide tradition is explored and the reasons are brought out as to why this rivalry has not only endured but has actually increased in strength over the years.
Part 2 gives a detailed account of each of the 50 games, including the teams' records coming into the game, the results of any subsequent playoffs, and a complete roster of the teams for each year. The article of the local newspaper about the game is included in each chapter. At the end is an appendix of stats, a listing of head and assistant coaches, and other interesting items over the years. Finally there is an index of all the players who played in the game and what years they played.