Friday Night Lights, Houston Style: What Ever Happened To The Yates-Madison Rivalry?
Photo by Paul Knight
Hair Balls traveled to HISD's Barnett Stadium on Friday to check out the James Madison Marlins play the Jake Yates Lions, a refreshing change of pace from last week's Battle of the Super Suburbs .
Madison and Yates are apparently old rivals, and we went to the game with high expectations. But after walking around the stadium that stayed fairly quiet and empty through the first couple of quarters, we started wondering, What happened to the Madison/Yates rivalry?
"The names -- Yates versus Madison -- still bring some people out," Tony Gatlin, who graduated from Madison in 1985, told Hair Balls. "But it doesn't really compare. The games back then really meant something to us, the players, and the schools."
The games in the 1980s, Gatlin said, were played at stadiums full of screaming fans in the bleachers and surrounding the field, and if you didn't get there before the game started, you didn't get in.
In 1985, when Yates beat Madison 27-14, the crowd was the one of the largest in the state's history for a high school game, according to Richard Blair, who used to coach at Madison. That year, Yates went on to win the state championship 37-0 against Odessa Permian. (Friday Night Lights was still a couple years away.)
Blair blames the deluded rivalry to more high schools opening in the city -- the teams aren't in the same district or division anymore -- as well as the rise of the suburban powerhouse programs, particularly in Fort Bend County.
"Back then it was more turf related," Blair said. "It was like drawing the line in the sand."
The big-time rivalry might be dying, but this game didn't disappoint. Yates scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for what seemed like a miracle comeback, but missed its last extra point to lose 21-20.
For a slideshow of the game, click here.
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