By Tom Rohrer
One of Thurston County’s longest standing and most tradition-laden rivalry games is the annual matchup between the Cougars of Capital High and their east side rivals, the Olympia High School Bears. The rivalry will be renewed on Friday, Sept. 7, beginning at 7:30 at Ingersoll Stadium on the Bear’s campus.
While all sport matchups between the two high schools produce a terrific atmosphere, the “Spaghetti Bowl” takes things to a new level, as fan bases from both institutions cram into the confines of Ingersoll Stadium (and the track) below for the annual renewal of the rivalry.
Essentially splitting the town into two sections, the game has generated it share of terrific moments and memorable finishes, where standout teams, coaches and players alike made their own mark to last generations.
The rivalry, which began in 1977, has seen Capital take a 19-16 lead in the all-time series, with Olympia taking last year’s matchup 10-7, and Capital winning in 2010, 49-28. Since Capital moved away from the 4A Narrows League in the late 2000′s, the game has been played early in the season, allowing the winner to generate momentum for a late season run into the playoffs. (This year, CHS moved to the 2A Evergreen Conference from the 3A Narrows League.)
It will be the 18th Spaghetti Bowl for Bears head coach Bill Beattie and the sixth for CHS head-man J.D. Johnson.
Both coaches know that the matchup is not just another on the schedule.
“It’s a great community event,” said Coach Beattie. “To see the people come out and the two schools battle like that… it’s an awesome thing to be a part of.”
“Spaghetti bowl is just a phenomenal experience,” said Johnson. “I don’t think there’s anything that could replicate it across the country. When you’ve got 5,000 people there, people having to sit in the stands and on the track. It’s a great atmosphere for our kids. It’s a great atmosphere for our district. And it’s a great opportunity to be part of something that is that big.”
Olympia and Capital come into the game having both faced stiff oppositition in their respective season openers.
Capital traveled to Bellevue to face Newport High School on Thursday, Aug. 29, and came away with a 29-22 victory over the Knights, the first of four consecutive games versus a 4A school to start the season for the Cougars. Olympia, ranked ninth among 4A schools to start the season, welcomed Lake Oswego High School of Oregon at Ingersoll on Friday, Aug. 30. Nationally ranked Lake Oswego is the defending Oregon 6A state champions and the number one team in the state, and the Lakers’ were able to shut out the Bears 34-0.
Beattie knows it’s important for his team to re-group and shift focus towards the rival Cougars.
“We’re going to pick up from it, and that’s what we’ve got to do next week,” Beattie said. “That’s why we schedule these three non-league games, we want to get tested and be ready for league.”
While the Bears only return seven starters from last year’s 10-2 team, the Cougars re-loaded in 2012 with 17 first-teamers on defense and offense combined.
“It’s incredible,” said Cox. ”The fans are cheering, the stands are packed out on the track. It’s just a great atmosphere and I love it.”
“Spaghetti Bowl is by far the biggest game,” Van Sickle said. “You always have to look at it no matter if it’s four games away, it’s the biggest game on your schedule. I’m very excited for it, the atmosphere is high and intense and it’s a great feeling looking up and seeing how many people we have in the crowd.”
For more information on the various events leading up to Friday’s Spaghetti Bowl matchup, visit www.osd.wednet.edu.