For the first time in years, Glen Cove and North Shore will face off in a football game. Recent memory indicates that the hardwood is where the rivalry is alive. Ask any alumni though, from either school, what it was like when they played on the gridiron annually and I'm sure you'd get a different response. Before 1992, Nassau County football took many shapes and forms, but one of the most consistent was a category of North Shore and another of South Shore. That was when this rivalry was born, and that was when North Shore vs. Glen Cove meant the most. From years of listening to stories from alumni about Big Red vs. Vikings, I wished that I could have had the opportunity to be there and see the rivalry when it was the most intense. This Saturday, both communities will have the chance to do it again.
Really, it’s easy to see why it became what it was at one point. According to Google Maps, Glen Cove and North Shore high schools are all of 3 miles apart from one another. Need driving directions? How about drive in a straight line from North Shore High School towards Glen Cove and make one turn, at Dosoris Lane. Although Glen Cove and North Shore haven’t played a football game in quite some time, the communities of Glen Cove and those that compose the North Shore School District are as interconnected as ever. Parents in Glen Head sign their children up to participate in Glen Cove Cardinals youth football just as often as Glen Cove parents sign their children up to participate in North Shore Vikings baseball or lacrosse. Even on a political level, there have been discussions of merging the communities even further.
In 1992 though, Long Island football moved to conferences based on enrollment, and with it came the end of the annual Big Red vs. Vikings contest. But the rivalry after 20 years? It never lost a step. My senior year at Glen Cove (2009-2010) the Big Red and Vikings faced off 3 times on the basketball court. The last game was a home contest for North Shore that was standing room only. The famous Red Army cheering section from Glen Cove was met in the stands by a “black out” by the North Shore fans, and there were even rumors of mischief by some Glen Cove fans at North Shore High School the night before. The two schools may have not met on the football field in recent memory and some may have argued that Locust Valley took over as Glen Cove’s biggest rival, but that afternoon made you realize Vikings vs. Big Red was as healthy as ever.
Big Red fans, as well as North Shore fans, I encourage you to embrace this blast from the past. As neighboring communities that share so much, our kids have worked extremely hard and are stand-up individuals, even before athletes. Very few of them will go on to play football at the collegiate level, but all of them have put everything on the field and represented their communities as best as they can. In the last regular season game of the year North Shore will be looking for their 5th win and a spot in the playoffs, while Glen Cove will be looking to establish themselves as one of the best Big Red football teams ever with a 7-1 record, if victorious. Game time is set for 2pm at North Shore High School, so why not relive those high school glory days and make your way back out to a Big Red vs. Vikings match up, even for old times sake? Only 3 years removed, I certainly wish I could.