Throw the records out the window
Both East, West come into the game winless, looking for bragging rights
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Meeting for the 117th time in the storied rivalry, the Green Bay East-Green Bay West football game Sept. 30 at East High School promises to be the biggest game on each team’s 2022 schedule.
Played annually since 1905 — minus a couple of seasons off — the rivalry is one of the longest-running high school football series in the state.
After 116 games played, East currently leads overall, 63-50-3.
“It’s an amazing rivalry,” East coach Levi Nelson said. “I’ve always been a part of high school rivalries, but this one takes the cake. I’ve never coached in a rivalry series as big as this one. We want to beat West and have bragging rights for the year — it’s fun. That’s what high school sports are about.”
Nelson grew up in Ohio but said he traveled to Green Bay in the summer for Packers training camp.
“Instead of going on vacation in other parts of the country, we’d come to Green Bay,” he said. “I always dreamed of retiring and coaching football here. I don’t have a lot of hobbies in life, but I follow the Packers. To coach on the same sidelines as Curly Lambeau once did is amazing.”
Lambeau coached East from 1919-21 and was the Packers’ coach for three decades.
Drew Brusoe is a first-year coach for West.
“We have a coach on staff who played at West in the 1980s when both teams were pretty competitive, so he’s filled me in some,” Brusoe said. “I recently sat with a few alumni and talked for several hours about the rivalry — I learned lots. I’ve been taking it all in from supporters of the program.”
Last season, West won 14-13 after blocking an East field goal attempt in the final seconds of the game.
“This game has a couple of circles around it (on the calendar),” Brusoe said. “This is the game, when push comes to shove, everyone will come to watch. No matter what the records are, it doesn’t matter. We know it’ll be a dogfight — (the rivalry) is always in the back of our minds.”
Nelson, who said he loves reading about the history between the schools, doesn’t look back on past results much.
“They beat us last year. That’s all the further I go back,” he said. “It was a close game. I’ll tell you what — that Monday after we lost, it was quiet in the school. The kids take it seriously.”
Recently, both teams have fallen on hard times.
Over the last 19 seasons, West has a combined 9-156 record and has gone winless in nine seasons.
Meanwhile, in the last seven seasons, East has gone a combined 6-52.
Since 1998, East has gotten the better of West — for the most part.
The Red Devils have won 21 of the past 24 installments. Included in East’s recent dominance was a record 70-0 thumping in 2018.
“Whoever wins or loses, it doesn’t make you a better person,” Nelson said. “It will be an outcome both teams have to live with. At the end of the day, life goes on.”
The last time the game was played at City Stadium was during the 2018 season, so this will be Nelson’s first time coaching the rivalry on his team’s home turf.
“I’m excited for that,” said Nelson, who took over at East in summer 2020. “I’ve been a part of two East-West games, and they’ve both been exciting. I can’t wait to experience it from our home sidelines.”
Home to the Packers for 32 seasons (1925-56), City Stadium was dedicated Sept. 13, 1925.
“Eighty-seven Pro Football Hall of Famers played at least one game at City Stadium,” football historian Cliff Christl said.
Alex Neang – West
Alex Neang, a senior offensive/defensive lineman for the Wildcats, has been a part of two previous East-West games.
Neang said last year’s 14-13 win for the Wildcats was one of the best sports moments he’s ever been a part of.
“I had lots of nerves coming into (last year’s game),” he said. “I had a feeling we were going to win, honestly, but the last drive from East had me nervous — lots of bad luck has haunted West over the years.
That blocked field goal was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It felt good to
beat East for the first in many years.”
The blocked field goal from Dakotah Montez helped the Wildcats beat the Red Devils for the first time since 2014 when West squeaked out a 30-29 victory.
Neang said the week leading up to the East game is intense.
“It’s rivalry week — we just want to win that game,” he said. “After we won last year, it felt good on Monday (following the game) in school. It was our only win of the season — our Super Bowl.