When I got to Page High School in Greensboro on the chilly night of Oct. 16, I wasn’t necessarily concerned with the historical landmarks surrounding this Grimsley-Page game.
I didn’t realize at the time that this was the 63rd meeting between the teams. I knew, however, that the rivalry was long running — since 1960, to be exact.
I didn’t immediately recognize the significance of having to drive to Marion Kirby Stadium for the game. Indeed, this year marked the first time the game had ever been played at Page.
See, instead of thinking about the objective history, I was considering my personal history with the bout.
Of all the traditional matchups which have embroiled my life, the only one coming anywhere close to the intensity of my feelings between Carolina and Duke — ra-ra, Carolina-lina; go to hell, Duke — is the Grimsley-Page rivalry.
My personal involvement with the struggle perhaps makes my disdain for the Page Pirates logically stronger than my blind hatred for Duke. After all, I actually attended Grimsley High School, whereas my Carolina fandom was the result of thorough familial brainwashing.
There are, however, some similarities between the two contests.
For one, the two sets of schools are geographically very close. As the crow flies, approximately seven miles separate UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University; in the local example, about three miles lie between Grimsley and Page.
Owing to this proximity, Grimsley and Page have split neighborhoods between their schools, and in some rare examples the two schools have split families.
For instance, my mother and uncle both went to Grimsley, while their younger sister attended Page.
As with Carolina and Duke, these factors play into the intensity between the two schools. And intensity makes the rivalry fun.
As a student going off campus for lunch during Rivalry Week, you might run into a gaggle of Page students and talk some smack.
That’s baseline stuff.
I recall more intense actions, like cars getting egged or even smashed up, sometimes with cinderblocks through vulnerable, glassy areas.
The Page kids also played some absolutely incredible pranks on my beloved high school.
They really knew how to use dye. One year, when Grimsley still had a pool on campus, I heard they colored the whole thing red. Same with the football field. If my memory serves me well, the authorities caught the offenders of the latter act.
But I’ll never forget one prank as long as I live.
My junior year, I arrived at school bright and early at about 7 a.m. before Zero Period, and walked toward the quad, when I noticed something wrong, but so right.
Grimsley had painted a mural on the side of the auxiliary gym, a big blue tornado on a white background alongside blocky blue text reading, “THIS IS WHIRLIE COUNTRY.”
Well, some ribald geniuses hailing from Alma Pinnix Drive had snuck onto campus and whited out the O, R and Y in “country.”
I actually slapped my knees laughing, and I still must hand it to them: Those Page Pirates sure know how to knock our school.
They most definitely did on Oct. 16.
I hadn’t been to a high-school football game in 10 years, back in those halcyon days when Grimsley’s team actually went to the state championship, only to be ravaged by the Rose High School Rampants hailing from Greenville.
I’m simply calling a spade a spade when I state things have gone downhill since then — Grimsley arrived at Kirby Stadium with a 2-5 record.
Page, on the other hand, has performed admirably this season, winning five of six and going 4-0 at home.
But, as is the case with many intense rivalry matches, animosity in the face of the enemy can inspire heroic effort.
Grimsley’s defensive line shut down Page and forced a few turnovers, creating some tight situations for the Pirates in the first half.
Still, Grimsley could never capitalize on good fortune.
For one, they relied heavily yet predictably on their fantastic running backs, senior twin brothers Caleb and Micah Williams. I could count on two hands the times Grimsley attempted to pass, with mixed results.
Their inability to convert hurt.
Following a blocked punt and a 35-yard pass to junior running back Javon Leake, Page led 14-0 at the half.
“It’s better than I thought it would be,” Sara Neese, Grimsley ’15, said during the break.
“My dad thought the score would be 42-0 by halftime,” Neely Gray, Grimsley ’15, added.
The dam broke for the Whirlies in the second half.
More rough turnovers by junior quarterback Noah Bourne — bless his heart — led to an eventual stomping that matched Mr. Gray’s prediction for the final tally.
I felt downtrodden. My low mood surprised me as someone with intentions to act as an objective observer. But that faith, that love, that loyalty — it was all still pledged to Greensboro’s Grimsley High.
Walking beaten from the visitors’ side, I suppressed the urge to brashly chant, “S-A-T SCORES!” at the crimson tide opposite me, and I trudged towards the parking lot, marching solemnly to the sad strains of the Grimsley alma mater.