The rivalry has come to the gridiron.
Lima Central Catholic and Lima Senior have battled each other throughout the years on the tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds and, perhaps the most exciting moments, on the hardwood.
On the basketball court, the battles between these two have become somewhat legendary and always highly anticipated.
This year that same hype and excitement is being generated for the first, and possibly the only, “Crosstown Gridiron Classic,” featuring the Spartans and Thunderbirds on a Thursday night to open the 2019 football season.
The game features two teams heading in opposite directions. Lima Central Catholic is coming off a successful 9-2 season and a second consecutive playoff berth. Lima Senior, playing a lot of young talent, endured a tough 2-8 campaign.
But as the old adage goes about rivalries, throw out the records, or in this case, last year’s records, because the coaches and players understand the significance of this game that goes beyond the boundaries of the football field.
Lima Senior head coach Andre Griffin and Lima Central Catholic head coach Scott Palte are excited about the upcoming game. As much as they want to treat it like any other game, they understand the ramification of the two schools colliding on the gridiron for the first time.
“I think it is big for the community, but what we have to do as a football program is realize what we are dealing with at Lima Senior,” Griffin said. “The thing for us is to gain confidence because we have nine games after that in one of the toughest conferences in the state of Ohio.”
Griffin added that it is one game and not a bowl game, but he knows his players are also invested in this game against friends and neighbors.
“They are kids, and they grew up with each other,” Griffin said. “You can say it is just another game, but those kids know each other and they are going to be fired up.”
Palte echoes his counterpart’s sentiments.
“This is obviously good for the Lima community,” Palte said. “I think it is kind of fun game in week one. I think our players are going to give their best effort and represent Lima, and whatever happens after week one, I hope both teams win the rest of their games. I want football to be successful for all Lima schools.”
Palte added that yes, on the football field, it has not been a bitter rivalry. He also acknowledges that Lima Senior players attend their games and vice versa, and the two are always interested in how the other team is playing.
Lima Central Catholic standout Shaun Thomas, a junior, agrees with his coach that this is great for the community. He said he is excited to compete against some of his friends on the other side of the ball.
“I’m excited. We are all excited,” Thomas said. “I am competitive, and we are all going to want to win. This is good for Lima, and I think it will be a big turnout and the community comes watch us. Hopefully us players can create a bond that is not there yet.”
Lima Senior’s Caymien Durr, who on defense will be looking to shut down Thomas and Co., is looking forward to the game.
“It is really nice to actually do this for real,” Durr said. “We really know the players and stuff like that, so it is going to be cool to play against them, plus you are making history because it is the first time for something like this. So I’m thrilled about it.”
Durr also added that this is great for the city.
“Everybody is going to come together, and it is going to be huge,” Durr said. “Everybody is going to be here and have a chance to have fun and watch the game. It is weird that we are actually playing each other.”