In Waterville and Winslow, they’re trying to resurrect a rivalry.

When it comes to football over the last 20 years or so, any Waterville/Winslow feud seems to be a rivalry of proximity, not necessarily a rivalry of the soul. Winslow’s Poulin Field and Waterville’s Drummond Field are separated by five stop lights and the Kennebec River, but they may as well be 1,000 miles apart.

Next Saturday, the Waterville and Winslow high school football teams will play a preseason exhibition game, the Battle of the Bridge. This will be the 83rd meeting between the teams. The series dates back to 1924, when the teams played to a scoreless tie. In 1925, Waterville took a 3-2 win, and didn’t lose to Winslow until 1931.

The most recent game came in the final week of the 2010 regular season. Winslow won that game, 27-7. I say most recent, because last year, the teams did not meet. When Winslow moved from the Pine Tree Conference Class B to the Campbell Conference Class C, the teams were unable to play even a preseason exhibition game.

Last season was just one of many recent interruptions to the series. There was 2004, and 2001 and 2002. Between 1976 and 1980, the rivalry took its first breather.

If this was an intense rivalry, one that both communities demanded and clamored for, there wouldn’t be intermittent breaks. In 2005, when Gardiner went from Class A to Class B, the powers that be at both schools made sure their annual football game never left the schedule.

With Waterville and Winslow, if it’s played, great. If not, maybe next year.

Recently, the Winslow booster club set up a Facebook page promoting this year’s game. On Thursday, somebody posted that the Battle of the Bridge trophy is missing.

I’ve covered each Waterville/Winslow game since 2003, and I’ve never seen this trophy. I can’t recall anyone even mentioning this trophy. Neither Heidi Bernier, the Waterville athletic director, nor Carrie Larrabee, the Winslow AD, had ever heard of the trophy, either. That doesn’t mean it’s like Sasquatch, something people think they’ve seen but doesn’t really exist, but it does offer proof that this rivalry is lacking in juice.

“I don’t know anything of a trophy, nor does any staff here in the office,” Larrabee said.

Both athletic directors rightly played down any hardware that may or may not be collecting dust in somebody’s basement.

“It’s not a playoff game. It’s not Homecoming. I know the fans are into it, but we’re kind of downplaying it. It’s an exhibition game,” Bernier said.

Exactly. Coach Mike Siviski at Winslow and Coach Frank Knight at Waterville will use the game to prepare his team for the upcoming season. Any bragging rights won are secondary.

Parents and alumni remember when this game was a big deal. It wasn’t that long ago, 2005, when these schools played one of the all-time great Waterville/Winslow games. In the Eastern B semifinals that season, Winslow took a 29-28 come-from-behind win over the Purple Panthers. It’s one of the best playoff games I’ve ever seen.

If the four class proposal currently being discussed by the Maine Principals’ Association is passed, next season Waterville and Winslow will be in the same division. You can bet they’ll play each other in the regular season finale, with playoff position at stake, and it will be a big deal. That’s the time to discuss a trophy, not now.

One thing worth discussing for this year’s game is the toy drive. Fans are asked to bring a toy to the game. All toys will be donated to the Home For Little Wanderers, and any fan bringing a toy get a dollar off admission.

That enough is reason to get yourself to Drummond Field next Saturday afternoon. Bring a toy. For now, forget about the trophy.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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