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'THE GAME':HIGH NOON For 107 years, two rival high-school football teams have squared off with one overriding goal: Sweet victory
Woodberry Forest and Episcopal High School square off in the longest-running high-school football rivalry in the South

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Date published: 12/1/2007


The Free Lance-Star

AS A FLOCK of geese flew high above the practice field in the cool blue sky, Woodberry Forest football coach Clint Alexander proclaimed it good weather for football. Before him his team ran drills and scrimmaged in preparation for the following weekend's game.

He knew this would be no ordinary game, as the voice mails and messages from alumni started coming in. Regardless of tallies in the Tigers' win-loss columns, ultimately the upcoming Saturday was the only one that mattered.

"It's a one-game season," says Alexander. "That's why I say it is like a college bowl. They've had a good year, we've had a good year, whatever. You'd better win the bowl game."

For the past 106 years, the second Saturday in November has been reserved for one occasion: the meeting of the Tigers of Woodberry Forest School and The Maroon of Episcopal High School. This 107th Saturday would be no exception as the Tigers prepared to make the long drive to Alexandria to continue the longest-running high-school football rivalry in the South, known simply as "The Game."

Going into the weekend WFS led EHS 51-47 with eight ties, but Alexander knew better than to underestimate his opponent. The Maroon had home-field advantage, not to mention a chip on its shoulder after the Tigers marred an otherwise undefeated 2006 season with a 45-13 Woodberry victory.

Woodberry Forest School is located in a corner of Madison County, wedged between Culpeper and Orange. Founded in 1889 by Civil War veteran Capt. Robert Walker, Woodberry is now home to approximately 400 students, all boys. Life at Woodberry is guided by the student-run honor system and a regimented schedule of classes, athletics and arts.

Alexander says the Woodberry boys are "everything a high school coach would want, and certainly a father would want. These are the kinds of kids you want to hire and you want to marry your daughter. It doesn't get much better than that. I mean, they're just great guys." Adds assistant coach Colin Gay, himself a Woodberry graduate and former captain of the football team, "The boys want to be coached. They want to listen. They want to work hard. You don't have to worry about discipline problems."

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