Ask fans in the Baton Rouge area to list the top high school football rivalries. There’s a good chance that Northeast High vs. East Feliciana High won’t make the cut.
But there are reasons why it should, especially since the two District 6-2A teams will add to their storied history together this week.
“You’ve had a lot of things happen between us,” EFHS coach Cedric Anderson said. “But as far as I know, this is the first time we’ve ever met in the playoffs. The community is excited. My team is focused.”
Fourth-seeded East Feliciana (9-3) hosts No. 5 Northeast (9-2) for a Class 2A quarterfinal game set for 7 p.m. Friday at East Feliciana Middle School in Clinton. The teams tied for the 6-2A title as the Vikings came away with a 16-14 win over EFHS in Week 9 at NHS.
“My first one of these was in 1992,” Northeast coach David Masterson said. “It’s intense, and it’s such a big deal for both communities. We’ve had it get heated up in the stands.
“But on the field, this has always been great competition. I’ve never seen a fight between the players or even a personal foul. You’ve always had cousins and other relatives playing against each other. It’s been family.”
The schools are located 12 minutes apart. Theirs is a rivalry that has stood the test of time and multiple school evolutions.
Its roots go back to the era before integration when East High School of East Feliciana Parish used to square off against Chaneyville, which was located just across the East Baton Rouge Parish border.
First, the rivalry evolved into Northeast vs. Clinton High. Anderson, who went on to play defensive back at Tulane, played for Clinton from 1988-90.
There were two recent evolutions. One came when Central High pulled out the EBR School System and Northeast’s boundaries were redrawn. In 2010, Clinton High and Jackson High consolidated to form East Feliciana.
“We lost my sophomore year, and we beat Northeast my junior year,” Anderson recalled. “My senior year, I think we got caught up in thinking about being district champions, and they beat us.
“That just proves that in a rivalry like this you can throw out the records. And we definitely need to throw out that Week 9 game. Anything is possible.”
The friendship between the coaches and players is something other rivals may not understand.
Two years ago, when East Feliciana was preparing to host a playoff game, the Tigers’ clock went out. Northeast offered its clock. Last season, Northeast reached out to EFHS to borrow several XL-sized football pants.
Both coaches say it’s the fans who often take the game to another level. Masterson said fans of the two teams started tailgating at 9 a.m. on game day this season. The capacity crowd gave Northeast its biggest gate receipts of the year.
Fans from the two schools were texting each other during their respective second-round wins last week. Masterson heard there were cheers in Clinton when it was announced that there would be a “rematch” even before the teams finished their games. Anderson remembers hearing the announcement.
More excitement and a bigger crowd is expected Friday. Anderson remembers talking to one fan who distributed Halloween candy during the Week 9 game.
Could there be Thanksgiving leftovers shared during tailgating this time around? Maybe some barbecue? Of course, there will be football.
“It’s fun to be part of,” Masterson said.