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Janesville Parker-Craig rivalry lives on

By Catherine W. Idzerda
August 29, 2015

JANESVILLE—A field full of forks is good.

A mound of manure might be better.

On Friday, Craig and Parker high schools met at Monterey Stadium for the annual cross-town football match. 

Football is football, but this game between same-city rivals is more than that. It's a chance for creative expressions of friendly dislike, an opportunity to feel humorouly superior and, sometimes, the chance to thoroughly wallow in a season-long gloat of sweet, sweet victory.

The rivalry dates back to 1967, when Parker High School first opened.

Before Friday's game, Craig led Parker in wins, 29-19.

Teams play for the Monterey Rock, a traveling trophy that gives one school bragging rights—at least for that year.

Friday's game was the only time the two football teams will face each other. In baseball and basketball, the teams play each other twice.

How deep is the rivalry?

“The one team you really want to beat is the one across town,” said Greg Richards, father of both Parker and Craig graduates, and currently a member of the Parker Booster group.

Mary Severin, a secretary in the Craig High School guidance office described it as “the biggest rivalry in the conference.”

Generally, the game takes place during the school year, and so students have a week of pep rallies and other events to get ready for the game.

Although school hasn't started, Craig students used social media to get the word out about this year's first minor prank.

Last Sunday, Craig students filled Parker's football field with plastic forks. Alas, no one called the newspaper, because that would have made great photos.

How many forks?

Craig senior Cullen Schumacher said he knew one person who had personally bought or installed at least 600 forks.

Not that he had anything to do with it.

Fellow senior Ryan Malec, who was tailgating with Schumacher and several other seniors, started randomly making up fork totals.

“Say 1,268,” Malec suggested.

Not that he knew anything about the forking incident, either.

Why forks?  Was that forks as in, “Put a fork in them, they're done?”

Were forks a substitute for another word that we can't print in a family paper?

No, the forks were probably placed in the field to make it difficult to practice. Imagine how irritated adults must have been.

That's good, but manure on the Craig High School lawn might be better.

Some background: Parker has been referred to as “cow-pie high” because of its location.

Anybody who has every been to a high school game has heard this exchange of taunts:

Craig's side: “In-bred farmers (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap).”

Parker's side: “Spoiled rich kids (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap).

Instead of getting huffy, Parker's students have embraced their status as the “rural school.”

One year, a group of enterprising students dumped a load of manure on the lawn at Craig, said Rick Stephenson, a Craig High School custodian who has worked at the school for almost two decades.

Another year, the kids got their hands on some equipment—probably from a farm—and moved the painted rock across the high school lawn.

Stephenson said in general, it has been a fairly friendly rivalry. Both sides seem willing to make fun of their reputation.

On Friday, the theme for the Craig students was “preppie.” with their Ralph Lauren shirts, argyle socks and bow ties, they did, indeed, look like spoiled rich kids.

As for Parker, the stands were filled with students in overalls and barn boots, camo and blaze orange, caps and straw hats and plaid, plaid and more plaid.

Switch their clothes or switch their bleachers, and they'd look exactly the same: Just like young people having a good time.