Henry: Respect at center of rivalry
Sept. 5, 2016 at 11:56 a.m.
There's a key ingredient that often gets overlooked in a rivalry.
There will be wins, which will bring on big celebrations. There will be losses, which can leave a bitter taste.
There's the smack talk, the preparation, the buildup, the hype and then, kickoff.
But through it all, at its core, lies a respect.
"It's like competing against your brother — that's what a rivalry is," Longview head coach John King said. "We all want to win, and at the same time, there's a respect, a closeness and a bond that football brings.
"It's a difficult game to play, it's a difficult game to coach, and all of the players, coaches and everyone involved knows what it takes. You go out there, lay it on the line, and you punch it out. You respect the game, and you respect your opponent."
After the usual week of fanfare, the moments leading up to the 106th meeting between Longview and Marshall this past Friday night were, as usual, tension-filled.
Then, once both teams had taken the field, the Marshall public address announcer broke in.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please rise as we observe a moment of silence for former Longview Lobo Travian Clayborn …"
The respect between the two teams, always there but often overlooked, was then evident for a packed Maverick Stadium to see.
Marshall head coach Clint Harper coached Clayborn, a 2016 LHS graduate, this past summer at the FCA Heart of a Champion All-Star football game a few weeks before Clayborn was killed in a car wreck.
"Coach Harper called and asked if that would be appropriate, and I said it sure would be," King said. "We look to honor Travian in every chance we get in the right way.
"I thought it was first class of him wanting to do that."
Kickoff was near, anticipation was high, and in that moment, the bond that football brings was evident between the two communities. It was a show of respect that was unexpected, but at the same time, not surprising in the least.
"I told the team before we left because I didn't want them to be caught off guard," King, with a picture of Clayborn to the right of his desk in the Lobo Den, said. "It's an emotional deal. I knew in advance, and that moment was still emotional to me.
"It's tough to go through that, but it's nice to honor him and the kind of person he was."
That's what kind of rivalry this is. It happens with the proximity and the storied history.
Meeting No. 80 with the Lufkin Panthers and No. 107 with the Mavericks will come again soon. No. 90 with John Tyler and No. 57 with Tyler Lee are still on tap.
And with them all, comes a rivalry full of respect.
"It feels like everyone we play has a rivalry against us — people get up to play Longview and we know that, we like that," King said. "Between Lufkin, Marshall, John Tyler, Tyler Lee and so on, it's always going to be a big game.
"That's what East Texas football is about."
Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h