Reflecting on Midlands greatest sporting rivalry

Thousands will flock to Midland Community Stadium this Friday for one of two reasons: cheering for the chemicals or cheering for the chargers

For some 50 years, Midland’s two high schools have feuded over the sport, but nothing quite compares to the fierceness of the Dow-Midland football rivalry. With many students in and out of the high schools, the Daily News spoke to alumni across the city about their memories of the rivalry games.

Vanessa Sedrowski

A 2002 Dow grad, she recalls that the Dow-Midland game was the most anticipated game of the school year. Rivalry week was filled with decorations, pranks at the other school, and lots of clapping. Things got awkward with her friends at Midland High, however, as she sometimes felt like she was “cheating her school” when she waved to her friends on the Midland cheer team.

Sedrowski competed in the 2001 Powderpuff game Dow vs. Midland, where Dow defeated Midland High. For the boys, she only remembered one game during her high school career where Dow recorded a win and ended a long Midland winning streak.

“I remember being in the crowd and our student body being the loudest and most spirited of all the games,” Sedrowski said. “I remember it was intense.”

Twenty years after graduating, her attitude toward chemistry has softened. As a college student, she would not have been caught dead choosing to play Midland High football. While she still hopes Dow wins, she now wants Midland Sports to be successful by both schools and make the playoffs. She plans to take part in this year’s game.

Edward Torres

Torres, a 2008 graduate of Midland High School, played football for his final two years of high school. He recalled the energy of Rivalry Week being competitive, to the point where Midland students no longer named Dow High, just “the school from across town.”

One memorable moment of a game was a friend of his painting his entire body in blue and gold from head to toe and walking around with a Chemics banner in just his shorts and shoes in the 12 degree weather. As a football player, he recalled beating Dow and getting pumped up with his teammates for most of his high school career.

“It was pretty hot,” Torres said. “Everyone got intense and started screaming, and (I) had no choice but to scream with them.”

These days he’s not that interested in sports and doesn’t stand on either side of the fence when it comes to rivalry. However, he thinks it’s good to have a healthy sporting rivalry between Dow and Midland.

Kim Steinke

Steinke was in one of Dow High’s first graduating classes in 1973 and said the rivalry between the two high schools was always there. She recalled students playing shenanigans and pranks on the other high school, like dumping Midland High households with toilet paper.

While she said Dow was good at some sports from the start, Steinke recalled that Dow was initially the underdog when it came to football. That all changed a few years after graduating when football stars like Roy Burks made the school more competitive with Midland High.

Today, while she believes the rivalry has some negative repercussions outside of sports, Steinke said when it comes to football, she will always fire for Dow High.

“I’m still, always and always a Charger,” Steinke said.

Dick Peterson

A 1975 Midland High graduate, he doesn’t recall having as much energy in the rivalry as others might. He said it’s a big community event and more of a friendly competition between schools.

He remembers a lot of camaraderie, including between the two high schools, as people like him had friends at both schools. He remembers that there was even a dance for both schools after the games.

“It’s a small town, you knew everyone, so it was just, ‘You go to this school, I go to this school,'” Peterson said. “It was a fun event. Very well attended.”

Fred Kelly

Kelly has been a sportswriter with the Daily News since 23 and provided insight into the importance of this rivalry.

“The Dow-Midland rivalry is always a big game in any sport, but in football the excitement factor and anticipation is amplified tenfold,” Kelly said. “If you ask me, the Dow Midland football game is the biggest single event in the Midland community year after year. It doesn’t matter what the teams’ records are or whether one or both teams are having a great season or a tough season. The community comes out in thousands every time for this game.

Often that game has some notable repercussions, Kelly said, as sometimes one or both teams are playing for a championship, a playoff spot or home field advantage in the postseason week nine. But he said those scenarios are incidental to the rivalry itself.

“Regardless of who’s playing for what, or if the Chemics and Chargers are just playing to show off,” Kelly said, “this game is a cultural phenomenon and one hell of a party town-wide.”


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