UPDATE: Atkins won 45-14 in the Alumni Rivals Cup.
ORIGINAL: Talk about a storied rivalry, Atkins and Dover high schools hate each other so much that even men as old as 46 are planning to put on the pads and punish one another on the gridiron.
Justin Nowlin, class of 2001, said that the rivalry extends to a way of life in the neighboring towns.
“It is bad blood. I mean, our coach says he hates people who drive through Dover!” Nowlin said.
But these former Atkins Red Devils can’t wait to go to Dover on Saturday, for the first installment of the Alumni Rivals Cup.
“We’ve pretty much always wanted to do something like this," Lucas Duvall, class of 2004, said.
They’ll play a full-length, high school rules, tackle football game against a group of Pirates alumni. It’s a chance for glory many of them thought they’d never have again.
"Them chills you get every time you see a football kicked off before a game, you know. And me being 34, that one more chance, you know, to put a helmet on and suit up and get it on," Nowlin said. "I mean, it’s a great feeling, and, you know, a bunch of guys I went to school with, one more time.”
The alumni Red Devils range in age from 18-46. But they’re dipping right back into the same playbook that they used when they wore the jerseys.
"Anything Atkins-Dover, I mean, we could play in flip-flops in a cow pasture somewhere and I think it would draw a crowd, just because the rivalry has always been just excellent,” Nowlin said.
And while they got their former coach to lead them again and reminisce about pranks they pulled as high schoolers. They’re also raising thousands of dollars to give back to their former schools and creating a new tradition to enrich Pope County.
“We’ve had some good guys to work with on the inside at Dover," Duvall said. "I mean, that’s how it’s gotta be. You know, at the end of the day, when the game’s all over with, we gotta go back to work, back home to our kids and everything else, so we just want everything to go as smooth as possible.”
The game will kick off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Dover High School.