By Tyler Graves for The News Examiner
WHITE HOUSE A day after the Portland and White House varsity football teams played on Friday night, former players from both schools faced off for their second annual alumni football game.
The contest was put on by Alumni Football USA, which raises money for high schools across the country to host full-contact games for former football players.
White House captured a 14-13, come-from-behind win at Dewey H. Whitson Stadium.
Players from both teams reminisced on what it felt like to put on the pads again.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to play again,” Portland’s Chuck Siniff said. “Fifteen years out and we’re still hitting people like we did it yesterday. I get to play with my buddies again and see my team. I thank God because there’s people that aren’t here with us now that can’t play, and we’re still doing it. It means the world, and I love it.”
White House’s Tyler Lanius added, “I think it’s really good for the younger guys and current players to come out here and see these older guys play and have some inspiration and something to look forward to.”
Portland took a 13-0 lead into halftime after Rodney Crabtree scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter, followed by an 11-yard touchdown run from Darek Boyd in the second quarter.
White House mounted a comeback in the second half as quarterback Gordon Keene found Josh Mansfield for a 30-yard touchdown pass to make the score 13-6. The Blue Devils scored again late in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Keene, and a successful two-point conversion run by tailback Bryan Dixon gave White House the one-point advantage.
Players also reflected on how big the rivalry between the two schools have been and what it means for their communities.
“I don’t want to use the word hate because that’s such a strong word, but back then, there was a lot of hatred between them and us and even the fans,” Boyd said. “They hated to see us come in, and they hated to come to Portland. It was two teams that – nine times out of ten – the winner of the game was either going to be fighting for the state (championship) or going to state. There was a lot of bad blood and hard feelings. We kind of get to bring that back tonight, because a lot of the guys that are out here played in the late 90s and early 2000s, so we get to relive that again.”
Mansfield added, “I think (football) is something competitive to keep kids’ heads on straight and (help them) stay out of trouble. So, if a kid from White House has a goal to win this game, then he’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to stay focused and do the right thing Monday through Thursday to get to Friday.”
The series between the two teams is now 1-1 as it was Portland whicih rallied for a 14-7 win las