Snohomish vs. Glacier Peak: a budding friendly rivalry

  • Thu Sep 6th, 2012 11:46pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer

You know who’s going to hate this?

Everybody. On Twitter. On Internet message boards. The guys who tack inspirational quotes on empty bulletin boards.

As Snohomish High School and cross-town rival Glacier Peak prepared to play football against each other for the first time, all the opposing coaches tried to do was to bring the community together — not drive it apart. And nobody loves a rivalry built on mutual respect … do they?

You know who would love this?

Dick Armstrong, that’s who. The legendary coach, who passed away 13 years ago, was all about high school football, community and not much else.

Help us give the Snohomish-Glacier Peak rivalry a name. Click here to vote for a name for the budding rivalry.

And that figures, because when the Panthers and Grizzlies begin their Snohomish River rivalry tonight, Armstrong’s legend will be all around.

Thirteen of the coaches patrolling both sidelines, including Snohomish head coach Mark Perry and Glacier Peak head coach Rory Rosenbach, either played or coached under Armstrong. Perry was an assistant during the 1992 and ‘93 seasons, when Rosenbach played for the Panthers.

To see the entire Dick Armstrong coaching tree, click here

It all led Rosenbach, who counts both Armstrong and Perry as mentors, to say: “I would imagine that I’m going to be as nervous and excited about a game as I’ve been in a long time. It’s the first time something like this is happening.”

Snohomish High’s Perry said that seeing the Panthers and Glacier Peak kick off a new rivalry would have been right up Armstrong’s alley.

“He’d think it was a big deal,” the Panthers’ coach said. “But he would still view it as: this is another way to get better.”

That’s the way Perry has instructed his team to look at tonight’s game: as little more than a preseason game to help prepare the Panthers for the conference season. But it’s hard to believe that there won’t be some unique emotions flowing through Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“It’ll be a big event for the community,” Perry said. “Both sides are coming in, two student bodies. A full house. A raucous crowd. And two teams ready to get after it.”

Players and coaches alike will struggle to keep their emotions in check tonight. In addition to the fact that many of the players on both teams have grown up playing against, or alongside, each other, there are the coaching ties that interlock throughout both sidelines.

Since Glacier Peak opened five years ago, Rosenbach and Perry have spoken via telephone before every Friday game — at 5:30 p.m. sharp — to give each other a get-after-‘em pep talk prior to kickoff. That probably isn’t going to happen tonight.

“It’s like playing against a family member,” said Rosenbach, a 1994 Snohomish High graduate and former tight end/linebacker for the Panthers. “It’ll be weird. I’ve never been on that side of the field (at Snohomish High). I’ve only been in the other locker room twice, and both times I only went in about five feet. It’ll be a strange night, but fun.”

In an effort to keep the rivalry from getting off on the wrong foot, the coaches got together and came up with a unity plan. They arranged activities like community service and a meal for the players, so that both sides could get together and form some camaraderie. The coaches also had nothing but good things to say about each other in the weeks leading up to tonight’s game.

So if you’re looking for hate, there are better places to spend a Friday night than Snohomish.

“It’s more of support and helping each other out,” Perry said. “There’s no bitterness, like a Cascade-Everett or Mariner-Kamiak, yet because there’s no history there.”

Said Rosenbach: “Usually in rivalries, it’s about the communities. There can be that sense of ill-will you don’t want to have, and that comes from the communities more than kids. It’s important for them to see us, as a coaching staff and players, interacting prior to the game.”

Neither coach expects the rivalry to take a turn for the worse, especially under their own watch. The coaching ties created a natural respect that neither side expects to go away once the games begin.

“It has the potential to be a fantastic community rivalry, or the potential to be on the bitter end,” Rosenbach said. “I know some Everett rivalries have been not-as-nice over the years, and that’s something we don’t want to do. It’s for the kids, it’s about the kids, and it’s just one game.”

The school district waited five years before staging a game, thereby allowing the Glacier Peak athletic program time to catch up to Snohomish. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s a shame that Armstrong won’t be around to enjoy it.

The only thing Dick Armstrong might not like about tonight’s game, Rosenbach said with a chuckle, is the way his Glacier Peak teams have taken to throwing the ball over the years.

“He might look at me and shake his head at some of the stuff we do,” Rosenbach said with a laugh. “But he would want the rivalry; he would love it. He was passionate about the sport of football.

“I can’t even imagine what that stadium will be like Friday night. It’s going to be ridiculous.”

A stadium filled with emotion. But on this night, and in this town, don’t expect hate to be among them.

THE DICK ARMSTRONG COACHING TREE

Legendary Snohomish football head coach Dick Armstrong casts a large shadow over the Panthers and Grizzlies football programs, not to mention the whole town of Snohomish. Here’s a look at the Armstrong coaching tree in the football programs at Snohomish and Glacier Peak:

Dick Armstrong, Snohomish head coach (1962-94)

SNOHOMISH PANTHERS

Mark Perry, Snohomish head coach (1995-current)

Coached with Armstrong for 11 seasons

Barry Rodland, Snohomish offensive coordinator

Played for and coached with Armstrong

Jeff Armstrong, Snohomish freshman coach/QB coach

Son of Coach Armstrong; played for and coached with Coach Armstrong

Jay Adams, Snohomish defensive coordinator

Played for Coach Armstrong

Frank Lopez, Snohomish receivers, kickers coach

Played for Coach Armstrong

Ed Lucero, Snohomish line coach

Coached with Coach Armstong

Terry Zupan, Snohomish line Coach

Played for Coach Armstrong

Mike Coombs, Snohomish volunteer defensive backs coach

Played for Coach Armstrong

Tom Bomar, Snohomish volunteer coach

Played for Coach Armstrong

John and Joe Brandvold, Snohomish statisticians

Both played for Coach Armstrong

Mark Albertine, Snohomish School District athletic director

Coached with Coach Armstrong

GLACIER PEAK GRIZZLIES

Rory Rosenbach, Glacier Peak head coach (2008-current)

Played for Coach Armstrong (1991-93)

Tom Berg, Glacier Peak offensive line coach

Played for Coach Armstrong

Mark McCallum, Glacier Peak assistant coach

Played for and coached under Coach Armstrong

John Mitchell, Glacier Peak freshman coach

Coached under Coach Armstrong

Terrance Marshall, Glacier Peak freshman assistant

Played for coach Perry