Roanoke private schools rekindle football tradition

By Lindsey Ward - Anchor

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Roanoke Catholic and North Cross kicked off the season in the Star City, starting a new tradition that's actually decades old.

For the Roanoke Catholic Celtics and North Cross Raiders, the 2016 season started with the two Roanoke private schools taking the field at Vineyard Park.

Unlike the schools' other sports, the two football teams haven't met in eight years.

"We play each other every year in other sports, football we have not been able to put back on the table," explained Matt Peck, Roanoke Catholic Athletic Director.

Back in the spring, the athletic directors and coaches from both schools finally sat down at Beamer's restaurant to discuss making this game a reality.

"I basically begged for a few years and then through the process of a new A.D. coming in, Matt Peck, kinda did the same thing, kept badgering him," said Eric Lawrence, North Cross Athletic Director.

The leaders of both schools say it's a win-win for the community and the football programs.

"Now that gives us an opportunity to compete against the team that plays a different style of offense, has some good athletes, and has a good support and coaching staff, so it challenges us as coaches, it makes us better," said Coach Sweeney.

"I was all for it," said Stephen Alexander, North Cross Football Coach.  "I felt like we were traveling to play a lot of games all the way across the state, so I figured the schools are pretty close in size, pretty close in the kind of kids they have and we should be participating in football with each other."

With schools so close to one another, this match-up allows for hundreds of fans to cheer on their team.

"Vineyard Park I don't think had seen a game like that, if ever, in many years. There were hundreds of people there and excitement in the air. It was just a great atmosphere for high school football in southwest Virginia," Peck said.

The rekindled rivalry is already on the books for 2017.

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