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North and South ready for annual rivalry game

By: Zachary Manning | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 15, 2019

 Grosse Pointe North’s Keshaun Cooper  carries the ball during a game earlier this year.  North leads the all-time series 31-20.

Grosse Pointe North’s Keshaun Cooper carries the ball during a game earlier this year. North leads the all-time series 31-20.

Photo by Sean Work

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GROSSE POINTES — When Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South meet on the football field, everyone involved knows what’s at stake.

It’s a battle for bragging rights, and the team that comes out on top gets to hold its collective head high for the next year.

North enters the game at 0-7, while Grosse Pointe South is sitting at 6-1 and looking to capture yet another Macomb Area Conference White Division title.

The Norsemen control the all-time series 31-20, but South cruised by North 54-0 in last year’s contest.

“This rivalry is one of the biggest rivalries, I think, in the state,” Blue Devils coach Tim Brandon said. “It’s a huge game just in itself; just the rivalry in itself. These kids grow up together, they play little league together, they do all those things going up through the systems, so it means a lot.”

Last year’s final score didn’t sit well with North’s players and coaches, and they’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to avenge that loss.

This year, the Norsemen will have to steal a game on the road, with the matchup set for 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at South.

For the Norsemen, being able to knock off South is an opportunity to turn the season around. North coach Joe Drouin is hoping to see his team compete throughout the contest and give themselves a chance to win.

“We look at what they did to us last year, and 54 has been a number that’s come up a lot in our coaching conversations and our talks with the team,” Drouin said. “We run our sprints at the end of practice, we run 54-yard sprints. We run them because that’s how many South put on us. That’s something we want in the back of our mind. It’s kind of a small chip on our shoulder.”

On the Blue Devils side, the implications of this game are high. With a chance to knock off a rival, win a division title and solidify playoff seeding, South has plenty to play for.

Brandon said his squad wouldn’t change much when his team hits the field against the Norsemen. He’s hoping to see his team continue to play strong defense while putting pressure on North offensively.

“We just have to play our brand of football,” Brandon said. “We have to play great defense, which we’ve been playing all year, and we have to spread the ball around to our athletes.”  

Even though the on-field play may be intense, both programs have a mutual respect for each other. Growing up in the area, coaches and players from both sides have known one another and that adds a unique element to the rivalry.

“It’s more fun,” Drouin said of the coaching relationships. “Having coached against Brandon for a while when he was the JV coach at North and I was the JV coach at South, you see these things and remember, ‘Hey, back in ’97, he ran this against me.’ It’s always in the back of my mind, ‘Is that play going to come up?’”

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