‘Lifetime of bragging rights’ part of what makes the game special

Bob Bateman while coaching at Douglas High School

Bob Bateman while coaching at Douglas High School
File photo

You have to be a part of it to understand.

That’s pretty much the consensus opinion from coaches and former players when it comes to the Carson-Douglas rivalry.

It hasn’t mattered that both schools have put together winning streaks against the other.

Even a 13-year gap with no games couldn’t stop the two sides from eventually meeting up again.

A messy realignment process prior to this fall nearly caused complications to the 2023 game, but neither athletic director anticipated any break in The Rivalry lasting longer than one season.

The two communities are determined to play the game and, thankfully, there wasn’t a break at all.


The fuel for the Carson-Douglas rivalry comes from the intermingling of teams and communities.

Douglas might be home to Keith Roman Field and might have been the early stomping grounds for Blair Roman, but it didn’t stop the namesake’s son from crossing lines and joining the blue and white.

“It may be one of the best rivalries in the country,” said Roman. “You just don’t find too many places where you have so much history and such special communities and special people on both sides.”

Bob Bateman, an NIAA Hall of Famer, has done stints on both sides of the aisle.

Several current Douglas assistant coaches cut their teeth on the rivalry at Carson.

Now, they’re traveling south down Highway 395.

Current Carson assistant Adam Domitrovich said he could never see himself wearing orange and black, but many have felt that way before opportunities have presented themselves.

The discussions around The Rivalry Game start in January and February, potentially even sooner.

It spans to every sport as well, but on the gridiron it’s become a staple.

Carson High defensive coordinator Justin Barlow, a 2010 Carson graduate, remembers the Carson-Douglas games he went to as a kid, dating back to 1998.

When members of the community find out Barlow coaches the Senators, they ask about Douglas.

“I’ll have random people out of the blue, ‘Oh, you’re a coach at Carson? Are you going to beat Douglas this year?’” said Barlow. “Just to know our town is a part of one of those 100-year old rivalries you see on TV; we’ve got our own special one.”

Barlow remembers his final game in The Rivalry well, too.

He had to argue his way back on the field.

In 2009, Carson was winning handily in the third quarter.

After having both of his ankles rolled by a player thrown into his lower body, Barlow toughed his way past the athletic trainer and hobbled onto the field to finish the game.

“My mindset was so into it that they taped me back up and I literally hobbled back out there,” Barlow said. “Our trainer wanted to bench me ’cause we were already winning, but I would not let my coaches take me out.”

(Former Carson High School football coach and athletic director Blair Roman discusses a play during a timeout. File photo)


School size plays a factor, as well.

Douglas has always been the smaller school and smaller community.

Maybe some Tigers have felt like the little brother, but on the football field over the last 36 years the two programs sit in a stone-cold tie.

Each side has won 18 games, dating to 1987.

The teams traded wins for much of the 1990s. Carson won four of five at one point before Douglas started a streak of seven wins in a row, beginning in 2002.

“I think community-wise, I think proximity. We are neighbors,” former Douglas head coach Ernie Monfiletto said of the rivalry game. “It’s part of the job description. It’s part of the interview process. … I had a responsibility to get our kids ready to win that game as a representative of the program.”

Bateman thinks the bragging rights of a win last longer than a single trip around the sun.

“You can run into people of all ages and it’s a lifetime of bragging rights,” Bateman said. “Some of these people that I know who are in their 80s and 90s and they can tell you the scores and what happened.”

With all the history and tradition steeped into the now-annual contest, it also won’t be hard for many to remember the 100th anniversary edition of The Rivalry Game on Friday.


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