A dying rivalry?

Cyrus Final, Staff Writer

September 22, 2017

     Redlands High School – RHS and REV have had an historic rivalry over the last 20 years, and this rivalry is displayed through events like the upcoming annual Smudge Pot game.

    RHS and REV have been bitter enemies from the very beginning, but has the passion for this rivalry died down? In bygone years, RHS and REV have upped the tension before the big game. RHS’ ASB typically decorates the entire campus in school colors, banners, posters and balloons to hype up our student body and engage participants to attendance. For ASB, this requires tremendous school spirit and equal parts caffeine as they decorate the campus many hours before the sun dawns.

     And it has not been a bad turnout either. RHS/REV game tickets always sell out days before the event and everyone is donning their white and blue the night of the game. However, it has been a few years since REV students have foiled the early morning decorative efforts or driven through Citrus Ave. during lunchtime, shouting insults to dim the mood.

     Rivalry in this manner seems to only be used in sports nowadays, such as the afamed Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry. The two teams have been in an epic battle for the division titles each of the last 100 + seasons.

    But are there still bitter moments between Terriers and Wildcats that compare to the ones from this century-long duel?

    English teacher and ASB adviser Katie Baker knows much about the RHS/REV rivalry.

    When asked about the RHS-REV rivalry, Baker said “It is a real rivalry.” What makes it real? “The buy-in from the fans and passion for the game itself” Baker said.

    “I think it’s the starting point but it trickled into other sports and activities.”

    “On campus before I was ASB adviser the rivalry game wasn’t a big deal on campus until the Smudge Pot game actually started,” Baker said.

    “A lot of staffers graduated from RHS and have a lot of school spirit because of that. A lot of Alumni come back for that game and most staff sit under the scoreboard. The enthusiasm with students during the day is unreal and spills over to the players and the game becomes anyone’s game. 5 or 6 of the last 8 games have been to the last minute,” Baker said.

    The Smudge Pot is arguably the largest public display where the rival schools get to see who trumps who for the year. The game started out of a long Redlands tradition.

    The history behind this derives from the fact that smudge pots used to be seen all over town. They were used to keep the orange tree fields warm to preserve the citrus fruit in freezing temperatures. When REV opened in the fall of 1997, they did not have a football team. However as soon as they built one, the very first RHS/REV game was soon scheduled. The prize was the half-blue and half-red painted smudge pot that represents the orange packinghouse tradition of Redlands. Now the smudge pot represents bragging rights for the RHS-REV rivalry.

    The winning team each fall keeps the smudge pot on display at the school and gets boasting rights.

    The history of the RHS having rival football schools actually dates back more than 20 years. Established in 1891, RHS has had many rivals, including the University of Southern California at one point. RHS was the only school in the Inland Empire valley, during the early 20th century and USC was our closest rival. RHS has managed to win a couple of games against them, which occurred decades ago.

     Fast forward to the mid 1900s and the valley expanded. Fontana High School quickly became our nearest rival. The Steelers, known for their post-WWII steelyards, were a strong competitor for the RHS/Steeler game.

     This type of rivalry was focused mostly on football than anything else and many people had to drive nearly 20 miles to show their loyalty for their teams. For nearly 40 years, RHS and Fontana High battled it out in the Terriers/Steelers games.

     People would stand in line for hours to buy tickets to witness the game and show their patronage for either the Fontana “Steelheads” or Team RHS, also known as the “Beverly Hills of San Bernardino County.”

     As RHS has had a long history of rivalry before REV came into the picture, the current RHS-REV may just as well fade and die out.


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