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White River and Enumclaw gridiron battle back on schedule

The cross-river rivalry is back.

A fall football game between Enumclaw and White River high schools has been contested more than 60 times, but was put on hold following the 2009 season and has not been played the last two prep campaigns.

That all changed last week.

The breakthrough hinged on the resignation of EHS football coach Don Bartel, who had made it clear he generally did not like playing smaller schools. Enumclaw Athletic Director Kevin Smith gives coach great latitude when setting schedules, so the neighboring teams did not meet the past two years.

White River athletic director Chris Gibson had complained that a gridiron battle between the Plateau rivals was not scheduled. When Gibson heard last week that Bartel had stepped down, he contacted Smith and, quickly, the rivalry was renewed.

Smith admits he’s a fan of maintaining traditional rivalries.

The only thing that might have prohibited a Hornet-Hornet battle this fall was scheduling. Both teams had slated nonleague opponents for the opening week of the season – Enumclaw was to host Lincoln High of Tacoma and White River was paired against nearby, Class 3A Bonney Lake. All it took was two quick phone calls and two willing athletic directors who saw the value in a White River-Enumclaw contest. Now, on Aug. 31, White River will visit Enumclaw while Bonney Lake and Lincoln square off at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.

As part of a two-year agreement, Enumclaw will travel to White River in 2013.

“I’m excited for the White River community, the Enumclaw community and the two football teams,” Gibson said. “It’s good for everyone to have this game take place.”

Smith agreed. “Rivalries are fun for the kids, for the communities,” he said.

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