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“All’s fair in love and war, you know…” – Frank Smedley, “Frank Fairlegh: Scenes from the Life of a Private Pupil”

Love and war are most often used as opposite ends of a spectrum, but in Eddy County, the two are simpatico for one day each year.

You have to love the Eddy County War.

Sports rivalries can often get downright nasty. And if we’re being honest, it’s fun having a team to despise. It adds an extra element of passion – the feeling of something more on the line than just a win.

Unfortunately, it can be taken too far. Friends of mine who are Ohio State alums have been spat on, doused in beer, and pelted with rocks walking to the Big House in Michigan for games. Across the pond, fans of Man United and Liverpool regularly engage in bar… sorry, pub brawls.

But the saner majority keeps things in perspective, particularly when it comes to prep sports. Rivalries are a tradition, but the bulk of the passion involved is channeled through support of your own team, not dislike of the other. The bragging rights are a small bonus. The real spoils are the opportunities to watch young athletes give it their all amidst an atmosphere unlike any other.

Bulldog Bowl is an intimidating stadium on its own, stately when no one is around, electric when housing a regular Friday-night crowd. This Friday’s attendance, however, rolled right over capacity and into something that briefly resembled Woodstock before fans camping on the berms were asked to vacate for safety reasons.

The temporary bleachers were a drop in the bucket, and the spillover packed the walkways surrounding the entirety of the stadium, several deep in some places and further congested in the larger space on the field-house end.

It was an incredible sight to see and an incredible experience for the Bulldogs and Cavemen alike.

Artesians and Carlsbadites will always recall the stories of contentious games past, the fights, the flyers dropped onto campus and other minor acts of vandalism, the big wins, the heartbreaking losses, and they’ll always go out of their way to make sure they don’t own too many items colored blue or orange. Bets will be made, and ribbing will commence.

But at the end of the day, the two cities have one significant thing in common, and that’s a fierce love of their hometown team. And at the end of the 100th meeting between the two, the ‘Dogs and Cavemen showed one another great respect and admiration at midfield, proving their coaches, parents and communities have done something else very right.

Yes, it’s a cheesy sentiment, but that’s really all it’s about at this level. About 120 boys in front of around 8,000 fans – something of which most high-school teams will never see the like – and another War story in the books.

Congratulations, Bulldogs, and see you next Friday in Hobbs, Artesia.

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