Daily Egyptian

‘This is a part of our life’: Two rival high school football teams celebrate 100th game

Murphysboro+linebacker+Michael+Shearer+looks+onto+the+field+during+the+100th+meeting+between+the+Murphysboro+Red+Devils+and+the+Carbondale+Terriers+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+25%2C+2017%2C+at+%22Doc%22+Bencini+Field%2C+in+Murphysboro%2C+Illinois.+%28Ryan+Michalesko+%7C+%40photosbylesko%29
Murphysboro linebacker Michael Shearer looks onto the field during the 100th meeting between the Murphysboro Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at

Murphysboro linebacker Michael Shearer looks onto the field during the 100th meeting between the Murphysboro Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at "Doc" Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Ryan Michalesko

Ryan Michalesko

Murphysboro linebacker Michael Shearer looks onto the field during the 100th meeting between the Murphysboro Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at "Doc" Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Samantha Keebler

Two area high school football teams continued a decades-long rivalry Friday night as the Carbondale Terriers and the Murphysboro Red Devils matched up for their 100th game since the feud began in 1921.

Team affiliation has become a source of local pride amongst the communities over the years. Jan Etherton, a Murphysboro super fan for decades, said she bleeds the Murphysboro school colors — crimson and corn.

“To me, this is a part of our life,” she said.

Etherton, who has been to 59 Carbondale/Murphysboro football games since her freshman year of high school in the 1950s, said she has the heart of a Red Devil and she always will.

“I will be buried in this,” she said, referring to her “Once a Red Devil, Always a Red Devil” t-shirt. “My kids have been instructed.”

She said her dedication to the team came from her father, who played on the Murphysboro football team at the dawn of its rivalry with Carbondale.

“He ended up having four living daughters – no boys – and I was the only one to pick up sports,” she said. “I went with him everywhere.”

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Etherton continues to frequent Murphysboro games, despite no longer having children or grandchildren on the field.

The competition between the two high schools hasn’t always been civil. Mark Albertini, Carbondale Community High School’s athletic director — and a former Murphysboro Red Devil — said when he was a kid, there was a lot of bad blood surrounding the games.

Ryan Michalesko
Jan Etherton, a long time “superfan” of the Murphysboro Red Devils shows off a 1959 photo of her cheerleading prior to the 100th meeting between the Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at “Doc” Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)


“Carbondale people hated Murphysboro people — and vice versa,” he said.

Still, he said that animosity was short-lived. Albertini said the relationship between the schools resembles friendship now, with students from both high schools tending to date and befriend the “opposition.”

Ryan Michalesko
The Murphysboro Red Devils line up prior to the 100th meeting between the Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at “Doc” Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)


Albertini credits the lasting rivalry to the towns’ proximity to each other. He said many people travel between towns for work and school, which contributes to the competition by encouraging people from both sides to show up for local events like football games.

During the months leading up to the 100th game, Albertini said he and other CCHS sports affiliates planned for the game with Murphysboro High School administrators and coaches.

Albertini said he and Len Novara, the athletic director at MHS, brought together several retired and active coaches from each high school for a reunion prior to the game.

Ryan Michalesko
Murphysboro outside linebacker Darius Priget rests prior to kickoff of the 100th meeting between the Murphysboro Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at “Doc” Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)


The Coaches’ Social was a friendly gathering of coaches, Albertini said. Coaches that taught several decades ago came together, shaking hands, hugging and asking about each other’s families, he said.

“I just don’t think that can die,” he said. “I think we’re going to keep this going, hopefully for 100 more meetings and even beyond.”

Though Carbondale won the night with a final score of 21-6, Novara, who has been the Murphysboro athletic director for nearly 18 years, said the match-ups are less about the sport itself and more about the relationships they help foster.

“The neatest thing has nothing to do with the game,” he said. “It’s to watch the community rally around a common cause.”

Novara said many MHS alumni are just a phone call away from lending a helping hand to the high school. One helped Novara decorate the gymnasium with mascots, and another helped the school fund their post-game concert, he said.


Ryan Michalesko
Carbondale running back Courtney Hunter (23) works to power past Murphysboro defensive back Gavin Topp (10) and linebacker Jared Lawrence (84) during the 100th meeting between the Murphysboro Red Devils and the Carbondale Terriers on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at “Doc” Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)


“I mean, it’s just everyone in the community,” he said. “It makes you feel like it’s a really special place.”

He said the passion and loyalty many feel for their respective communities comes from a sense of shared history.

“Whenever you reach out to people, they want that for the younger generation — the same thing they had or better,” he said.

CCHS sophomore Mary Cummins said it’s exciting to be a student during the 100th matchup between the two high schools.

She added that the rivalry doesn’t stop either side from befriending the other.

“I’m friends with people from Murphy and they’re friends with us,” she said. “But it’s good to have a little competitiveness.”

Staff writer Samantha Keebler can be reached at [email protected].

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

Ryan Michalesko
Murphysboro quarterback Gavin Topp (10) embraces running back Brandon Caldwell after losing to the Carbondale Terriers in the the 100th meeting of the two teams on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at “Doc” Bencini Field, in Murphysboro, Illinois. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

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