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Bragging rights, Fugate Trophy on the line for Auburn, Auburn Riverside | Prep football
In Auburn it doesn't get much bigger than the annual gridiron tilt between Auburn and Auburn Riverside.
For 18 years, the Ravens and Trojans have met at Auburn Memorial Stadium to play for the Fugate Trophy and city bragging rights.
"My first memory of the trophy itself was when I was in seventh grade at Cascade Middle School, when I started playing football," Auburn's senior quarterback Brier Atkinson said. "We heard from our coach how big of a deal it was. He told us it was a longstanding trophy and we really had to win it. My first experience with the game was back in 2006, watching Kellen Kiilsgaard do what he does and win the game."
"The first time I went to the game was my freshman year," Ravens senior wide receiver Drew Wallen said. "I didn't really understood the caliber of the game and how into it the city gets. It's really more than a football game. Even the peewee football players will brag about it."
For much of the lifespan of the rivalry, the Fugate Trophy's residence has been at Auburn High School. Until 2011. That year a 3-5 Auburn Riverside team came in to take on a 3-5 Auburn squad and came out on top 30-23.
Auburn Riverside senior quarterback Kevin Thomson was a sophomore on that team.
"I didn't really know a lot about the game because I didn't grow up in the Auburn district," Thomson said. "But I think we had some really good athletes that year and good players, and they hadn't pieced it together for the whole season. It just come as a big surprise when we did win."
"It was definitely special, just being part of something no other class had done," Wallen added. "It was pretty incredible."
For Atkinson, a sophomore for the Trojans at the time, the experience was less celebratory.
"It was a shock," he said. "Up until then we hadn't lost to Riverside. It was a wake up call for a lot of the juniors and sophomores. It set us up to be a better team that next season."
This year the game is about more than bragging rights. This year, there are playoff implications on the line. The Ravens come in with a 6-1 South Puget Sound League North 4A record, 6-2 overall, and a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
The Trojans, however, will be fighting for their season. With a 5-2 SPSL North 4A record, 5-3 overall, there is no guarantee for Auburn.
"Since I have been here the game against Riverside has always been a great game," said Auburn Head Coach Gordon Elliot. "For several of those, one or both of us have had playoff implications based on the game's outcome. This year is no different."
A win against Auburn Riverside earns the team a spot in the postseason.
A loss would muddy the water for the Trojans, forcing them to rely on Tahoma (4-3, 5-3) beating Jefferson (5-2, 5-3) and Kentlake (3-4, 3-5) beating Kentwood (6-1, 6-2) to help it secure one of four seeds out of the SPSL North 4A
"Riverside has an excellent team," Elliott said. "They have a quality senior class, and the new coaching staff has done an excellent job of installing their program. They have proven to be one of the best teams in the league and are deserving of their playoff berth."
"Our team is young and inexperienced. We have played good football all year but have had trouble playing at a high level for 48 minutes. In all three losses we have had the lead in the fourth quarter against quality teams and have not been able to maintain our level of play. Obviously, to compete against an outstanding team like Riverside, we will have to play better for the entire game."
Wallen conceded that the Ravens needed to be at the top of their game to knock off the Trojans.
"Every game is a new challenge and they're really well coached. We have to go and play our game and not make mental mistakes. I think it's going to be a pretty good game."
"We're confident going into every game," Thomson said. "We're treating every game as a playoff game now. But we have to get ready for it. It's going to be a high intensity game. We know we can beat any team, if we play our game. I feel pretty good about the game and I'm excited to play it."
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at Auburn Memorial Stadium. Auburn is the home team.