MORGANTOWN — Of all the highschool soccer video games Blain Stewart was part of, none have caught with him greater than the MoHawk Bowl.
“Even earlier than enjoying, I keep in mind going to the video games when it was at Mountaineer Discipline,” mentioned Stewart, who now works at Mountaineer Discipline as an assistant coach with WVU. “By way of my very own profession, I keep in mind it being the most important week yearly. It was an unbelievable native rivalry.”
The annual highschool soccer matchup between crosstown rivals Morgantown and Univeristy is an area staple. Some years it feels as if the whole metropolis tries to cram into both MHS’s Pony Lewis Discipline or UHS’s Mylan Pharmaseuticals Stadium.
“I simply keep in mind it was a fantastic week, the video games all the time mattered for seeding, all the time mattered for city pleasure and it was all the time an enormous week,” Stewart, a Morgantown graduate, mentioned. “After I consider my highschool profession, College video games are on the prime of that listing.”
Stewart thinks it’s the familiarity between the faculties and their supporters that makes the rivalry video games so particular. Separated by solely a handful of miles, Stewart mentioned he was all the time good pals with a variety of the Hawk gamers.
“Realizing gamers on either side of the sphere was nice,” he mentioned. “I grew up in Cheat Lake so I performed for the Cheat Lake Chargers, performed for Cheat Lake Center Faculty soccer after which ended up going to Morgantown Excessive. I had a relationship with quite a few guys on the College aspect.”
Morgantown went 4-0 in opposition to College throughout Stewart’s time within the rivalry, a reality he gained’t quickly neglect, or cease reminding others about.
“I take nice pleasure in that to today,” he mentioned. “One in all my finest pals, Jack Armstrong, performed at College. I remind him yearly that I by no means misplaced to UHS.”
Stewart not solely remembers that the Mohigans gained, however he additionally remembers key particulars from all 4 video games.
“Freshman yr I didn’t play, however I used to be dressed and we gained 7-6 at College,” he recalled. “Anthony Vecchio had the successful landing catch and we ended up successful by one.
“Sophomore yr I used to be enjoying just a little bit, primarily particular groups however I bought in just a little bit on offense. We had a fantastic workforce that yr and beat College at Pony Lewis Discipline. Junior yr, I keep in mind it was Halloween weekend and we bought after College fairly good. They have been a fantastic workforce that yr, however they have been younger.”
It was throughout that sport in his junior season that Stewart began to understand the neighborhood side of the rivalry.
“My baseball coach, Sean Watson, his spouse was sick and has since handed away,” Stewart mentioned. “Your entire neighborhood got here collectively that week. We wore orange wristbands and I spattered my cleats orange in honor of most cancers consciousness. Each side did that and I simply suppose that was an aesthetic factor College did for us.”
Stewart’s highschool profession closed with one ultimate victory over the Hawks.
“My senior yr, which was one among my favourite video games ever, we gained at Pony Lewis Discipline in a fairly powerful sport in opposition to a extremely good UHS workforce,” he mentioned.
Regardless of Stewart going 4-0 as a participant, it’s not as if one aspect has dominated the rivalry. Actually, as quickly as Stewart graduated, the Hawks have been in a position to take some revenge.
“Jack, in his senior yr after I left, beat Morgantown twice,” Stewart mentioned. “He beat them within the MoHawk Bowl and within the playoffs. That workforce, that I mentioned began out as a younger workforce, they have been seniors and so they have been rolling.
“It’s nice when that sport’s aggressive, which it has been,” Stewart continued. “And to today, I take nice pleasure in it.”
Whereas Stewart’s introduction to the MoHawk Browl got here through the sport’s tenure at Mountaineer Discipline, he liked enjoying on the excessive colleges. Though, because the son of WVU’s head coach on the time, Stewart admits the stadium didn’t have the identical attract for him.
“I liked enjoying video games on the respective excessive colleges,” Stewart mentioned. “I used to be clearly spoiled, I spent a lot time at (Milan Puskar) Stadium and on this constructing that I used to be most likely numb to how huge of a deal it’s.”
As for whether or not he thinks the sport ought to ever return to Mountaineer Discipline, Stewart mentioned he feels divided.
“I believe there’s professionals and cons to each,” he mentioned. “I believe enjoying on the excessive colleges is nice, however for lots of gamers, it might be an unbelievable alternative to play at Mountaineer Discipline when that may be their solely probability to ever accomplish that.
“No matter occurs to it, it’s going to be an enormous sport no matter the place you play.”