GPN and GPS football set for annual rivalry game

By: Zachary Manning | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 9, 2018

 Grosse Pointe South senior running back Conor McKenna runs the ball against Detroit Renaissance in a game earlier this season. The Blue Devils are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings against Grosse Pointe North.

Grosse Pointe South senior running back Conor McKenna runs the ball against Detroit Renaissance in a game earlier this season. The Blue Devils are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings against Grosse Pointe North.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Grosse Pointe North junior running back Keshaun Cooper tries to escape a tackle in a game against Warren Michigan Collegiate earlier this season. The Norsemen lead the all-time series against Grosse Pointe South 31-19.

Grosse Pointe North junior running back Keshaun Cooper tries to escape a tackle in a game against Warren Michigan Collegiate earlier this season. The Norsemen lead the all-time series against Grosse Pointe South 31-19.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

GROSSE POINTES — For the players, the coaches and the community, the annual Grosse Pointe North vs. Grosse Pointe South football game means everything.

It’s a game both teams circle on the calendar and can’t wait to play. In this year’s edition of the rivalry, both teams have something to play for.

South (7-0 overall) is looking to remain unbeaten, win a Macomb Area Conference White Division title and gain home-field advantage in the playoffs. North (1-6) is looking to win for the third time in the last four meetings and spoil the Blue Devils’ undefeated season.

“It is huge,” North coach Joe Drouin said of the rivalry. “A lot of these kids grew up playing together. They do everything together. They do neighborhood club together. The fact that we’re a mile apart, there’s no other rivalry like this in the state that I can think of.”

If history means anything, this game should be tight. Over the last 10 years, the average margin of victory has been just over eight points. North leads the all-time series 31-19, but South is 6-4 in the last 10 meetings.

“It’s one of those situations where you win this game and you walk around town for the next 365 days with your chest out and your head held high,” said South coach Tim Brandon. “If you lose, you have to face the fact that you lost, and you got a long time before you get another shot at them.”  

Both teams know how important the game is and are preparing to come away with a win. Drouin said his players have been focused all season long, and a win against South can change the outlook of a season.   

“It would mean everything,” Drouin said. “We have nothing to lose and South has everything to lose. Records go out the door in a rivalry like this.”

Despite being a one-win team, Brandon knows the Norsemen have talented players. He wants his players to stay focused and play the type of football that has led them to an undefeated season thus far.

“This is a very physical team. This is a fast and athletic team. A swarm to the football type of attitude,” Brandon said. “We’re going to play our style of football, and I think that if we do that, if we block and tackle and play Blue Devil football, we’re going to come out on top.”

Even with the rivalry being intense and competitive, the programs have nothing but respect for each other. Some of the coaches from both teams are friends off of the field, and that has added a new aspect to the rivalry.

“For the most part, it’s a friendly, community rivalry, although it does get contentious and bitter at times. But we respect them, and they respect us. We play hard on the field and then we shake hands afterwards,” Brandon said.

The game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at North.