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Parasiliti: History of city's 'Civil War' takes refreshing twist

November 06, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

History and geography teachers got a refresher course on Saturday.

That’s what happens when you keep living in the past or fail to give much latitude.

For years, each discipline of education would have you believe that the Mason-Dixon Line is considered the official border between the North and the South. At least that’s the belief in the mainstream.

On Saturday, that landmark moved ... at least for three hours.

That natural division traveled just off Pennsylvania Avenue, down the letter “I” on the front of Coach Greg Slick Press Box and extended across the 50-yard line at Mike Callas Stadium at North Hagerstown High School.

That was the battle line for Hagerstown’s Civil War — the 55th annual North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown football game.

The Callas Stadium stands — which are on one side of the field — were packed with supporters who sat in “hostile” harmony cheering on the host Hubs and visiting Rebels in a game with playoff implications and a city championship trophy at stake.

As one entered from the top of the grandstand, the Callas venue provided one of the best scenes and atmospheres in Washington County in some time.

The seats were full with green-clad Rebel fans to the left and red-clad Hubs fans to the right, using that imaginary line down the middle of the facility as an invisible fence. If one didn’t know better, someone might have thought it was a large group Christmas photo op.

In reality, it was the Hatfields and McCoys sitting together in détente.

South’s fans reveled as their Rebels scored four touchdowns in a four-minute span of the first quarter to take a 27-0 lead. The North side got their turn — at least for one brief second — when the Hubs scored in the second quarter to get within 20 points.

It truly was a beautiful day for football. There was no infighting in the stands as the only order of the day was to cheer for your team.

Callas Stadium gave a slight resemblance of some of southern college football sites where fans spilled over on the hills around the structure, sitting in picnic style to watch the game. Fans stood at the top and along the railings, just to get the best vantage point possible to see the game.

There were even fans in the real “cheap” seats, finding high, open spaces outside the stadium to get a look.

While the Rebels made a convincing statement against the Hubs on the field, the cheerleaders held a verbal battle on the track, trying to coax their fan bases to get involved.

Each team had groups of half-naked students with letters painted on their chests. The Rebel rousers were engulfed in the stands while the Hub hollerers stood on the end of the track, looking like cryptogram or jumble puzzles because they were standing out of order.

It ended up being a huge day for South as the Rebels not only won the game convincingly, it beat the Hubs for the first time in nine years and took home the city championship trophy. South also wore its newly infused school spirit like a badge of honor as it handily won a sponsored spirit challenge to earn a $1,000 scholarship.

On this day, South definitely rose again.

But the same could be said for high school football in the area.

The game took a page out of Cumberland’s rivalry playbook by playing on a Saturday afternoon for the first time in 29 years.

Hagerstown’s version may not have been as intense those Allegany-Fort Hill epics, but this town did shed the noncommittal bathrobe for a day and actually got involved in a function for everyone to remember.

That, in itself, could be the starting point to put Hagerstown’s rivalry in some history book or on a map.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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