Tuesday through Friday this week, MyRye.com is going to bring you "The Game: A History Lesson" – a series outlining the history our the 83 year strong Rye Garnet – Harrison Huskie football rivalry. The history is written by the Old Garnet, Stephen Feeney.
Installment one of four:
THE RYE – HARRISON RIVALRY
THROUGH THE YEARS – (‘29-‘12)
WESTCHESTER’S PREMIER HIGH SCHOOL RIVALRY
83rd EDITION – October 19, 2013
As the heat and humidity of summer yield to crisp autumn weather and the leaves take on a palette of gold, brown, orange, maroon and garnet, it can only mean one thing for the townspeople of Rye and Harrison – the renewal of the classic Garnet – Husky football game. An ‘89 countywide Gannett Suburban Newspapers poll ranking local high school football rivalries unanimously confirmed the Rye/Harrison Game as Section One’s premier showcase game, and it remains so to this day. While not played in ’04, otherwise the intensity of “The Game” has not skipped a beat even after the 67-year string of consecutive games was interrupted. With the pre-season expectation of playoff teams in both communities pulses will be elevated when the Garnets and Huskies lock horns for the 83rd time on October 19th.
Both communities enthusiastically support and rally behind their beloved Garnets and Huskies as the calendar creeps toward “The Game”. “Hell Week” double-session practices evolve into early season games where the coaching staffs fine-tune offensive sets and defensive counters in preparation for the annual test of wills. School and community spirits run high as game day approaches with traditional in-school Harrison Week/Rye Week activities culminating in parades, Friday night pep rallies and bonfires in each town.
Coordinating and supervising the logistical elements of the rivalry game, and most importantly, insuring the safety of all involved is a significant challenge requiring the cooperative efforts of school and municipal administrators, police, fire and EMS personnel, service organizations, merchants and a myriad of volunteers from both Rye and Harrison. With past crowds of over 10,000 die-hard loyalists and curious fans from other Westchester communities, fan behavior is of utmost importance and concern. Thanks to the Rye and Harrison communities for valuing the rivalry, keeping it in proper perspective and maintaining its history for future generations. With cooperation and a levelheaded approach to the game, the rivalry will continue to its’30 Centennial and beyond.
THE EARLY YEARS – (‘29-‘50)
Residents and students of Rye and Harrison may believe that the rivalry has grown in intensity, but those from the first few years of this cross-town rivalry would respectfully disagree. Starting with a 13-7 Harrison victory in the ‘29 inaugural game, Harrison quickly captured the first 4 games by a combined score of 43-7. Rye’s initial win in ‘33 was followed by “post-game hooliganism and fighting” (the Daily Item reported that estimated damages to the HHS goalposts were $17.79 – a princely sum in ‘33), and resulted in a 3-year suspension of the series allowing tempers to cool.
In the early years there were no team mascots – teams were identified by their uniform colors, with Harrison called the “Maroon and White”, and Rye wearing the unique “Garnet and Black”. The trend toward animate objects as team mascots began in ‘32 when Rye had a canine mascot named “Mac” while Harrison had a fierce goat patrolling its sideline.
Series play resumed in ‘37 with Harrison squeaking out a 6-0 win. In that year HHS students voted the “Husky” as their official mascot over all other candidates with the “Maroon Marauders” and “Red Raiders” receiving votes. Over the years, the traditional “Garnet and Black” evolved into the distinctive nickname – The Rye “Garnets”.
4 straight Rye wins from ‘42 to ‘45 brought the Garnets one game shy of .500 with the series standing at 7-6-1, but a late spurt by Harrison stretched the Husky advantage to 11-6-2 by ‘50.