Larry "Mad Max" Maxwell probably put it best Friday evening at the Erickson All-Sports Facility when he said of the Parkersburg-Parkersburg South football rivalry "win or lose, this is great for the whole community.
"It's the Parkersburg bowl and the pride in the community, these guys know each other. It's a good way to end the season when you haven't won many games. You can't be in the playoffs every year."
Such was the case on a frigid night as the rival Patriots (2-8) and Big Reds (4-6) were playing for pride, bragging rights and the city trophy. Aside from that, it marked not only the last football game for the vast majority of the seniors on the field, but it also represented the last hurrah of "Mad Max" running out with the Patriot flag leading the charges.
"For 33 years I've been "Mad Max" and I need to concentrate on my health," Maxwell said.
When it came to the game itself, I kept getting the feeling in the second half the Patriots of first-year head coach Mike Eddy were going to find a way to pull it out.
As it turned out, though, Parkersburg's 35-26 victory was aided in large part by Parkersburg South missing an extra point, a makeable field goal and losing all four of its fumbles.
PHS junior defensive end Austin Life recovered the first Patriot fumble, giving the red and white a short field that led to Corey Burdette's 6-yard touchdown run at 4:52 of the first as head coach Don Reeves' squad never trailed.
Following the game, I tracked down Life, who managed to not only recover a fumble, but grabbed a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Aaron Roberts along with forcing a fumble. Of course, the first thing he wanted to talk about was his 15-yard taunting penalty that came in the third quarter when he hauled in a 34-yard TD reception after Roberts scrambled to keep a play alive and Life was all alone in the middle of the field and held the ball out as he waltzed into the end zone.
"Listen, I was really happy I scored those two touchdowns, but I think it was a little disrespectful on my part showing off," Life admitted adamantly after being asked to go through some of the moments from the game.
"I apologize to South and everybody on the southside and the fans. In the moment we were playing South and it felt good and then after the game even though we won I still feel bad about it."
Roberts added a pair of short touchdown runs to account for the Big Reds' other scores.
"It was just awesome winning this game," Roberts said. "It's great to go out my senior year with a win. It's awesome. I love it.
"South's tough. We just wanted it more, made the plays and I love my team."
For the record, the Big Reds ran a final play late in the game so freshman Rylan Hamilton could block for his senior brother Chandler.
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org