By CHRIS HOBBS
When WNNC Oldies 101.3 FM first asked me to write about some of my memories of the Bandys versus Maiden high school football series – which started three years before I was born – I cautioned that after 43 years of covering the series, the years sometimes run together.
That said, here are some things that don’t have me pulling a notebook off the old office shelves to recall (with apologizes to anyone overlooked, because all of the games I’ve seen between the two were, in their own ways, great games).
And note that there are a few games every year that will make a name/memory last forever and this series is among them. If you make a big play in a Bandys-Maiden game, you’ll always be remembered.
My memories include:
The first time
I vividly remember being on the Bandys sideline nearest what is currently the right corner of Lowman Field, as the Blue Devils came out of the locker room.
They were dressed in all white, on the road, for – at least from my memory – the first time (or at least the first time that I had seen it, as the all-whites were traditional home attire).
It was almost eerie, as I turned to someone and told them that was so odd – that, to me, Maiden might have been looking for something to motivate itself – and that Bandys would win the game.
It came down to a series of turns at the end. Scott Wesson tried a field goal to break a 6-all tie and was hit as he did. Maiden was called for roughing the kicker.
Wesson was on the sideline after the penalty, his shoulder bothering him (it was dislocated by the hit), when he was sent back out for another try at the field goal. The coaching staff, as I remember them telling me, was already discussing whether or not to transport Wesson to the hospital.
He instead went back out of the field, this time to attempt a 30-yarder, and converted it. He’d earlier hit from 30 and 28 yards, and ended up kicking three of his five field goals that season during this game.
Maiden lost four fumbles that night and tried only two passes.
Another dislocated shoulder
How bizarre is this?
In 1986, when Bandys won for the first time at Maiden, the score was 9-6 and the game-winning field goal was kicked by a player who had… yep, a dislocated shoulder just like Wesson did.
Coming off a bye week, the Trojans got a 13-yard scoring pass from Jay Holmes – still one of the smoothest QBs I’ve seen – to Matt Sigmon.
But the game came down to Greg Carpenter, who had one field goal at the time, kicking a 31-yarder to win it at the old Maiden stadium.
Carpenter was playing with a dislocated shoulder (which he had coming into the game).
Von Ramseur scored the only Maiden TD that night on a 14-yard run.
It was also the first time Bandys had beaten a Tom-Brown coached Maiden team, as the Trojans had won twice, in 1981 and then 17-15 in 1985, when the late Kermit Whisnant coached the Blue Devils.
So much talent
In the 1996 game at Bandys, won 21-0 by the Blue Devils, there may have been the most talent on the field than in any of the rivalry games.
For Maiden, Chris Ramseur scored on a 1-yard run and a 66-yard punt return and the other TD came from Corey Crawford.
That was the season Bandys reached its first state title game, led by a lineup that included QB Joey Goble, RB Emiel McCullough, Bill Vaughn (who has coached at Maiden and is now back on the Bandys coaching staff), Kyle Lowman (a current Trojans assistant) and WR Brad May.
Maiden got beat in the second round of the state playoffs that season, by Starmount, and the Trojans ousted Starmount 13-7 on the road in the fourth round (Western 2A final) that season.
Bandys — playing Clinton at North Carolina (which had RB Willie Parker, who later starred with the Pittsburgh Steelers) — led at the half before falling 26-14.
I still say that had May been a year younger and returned in 1997, the Trojans would have won a state title that season.
What the series means
The rivalry, for lack of a better term, has softened through the years.
When I was in high school in the mid-1970s at Bandys, there wasn’t much slack cut by either school.
There are (true) stories about things each school delivered to the other during game week that were to meant to raise the emotions between the close by communities. By Friday, both teams were chomping at the bits to get after each other.
By the late 1980s to early 1990s, because of the relationships built between the coaching staffs — spearheaded by a friendship between head coaches Randy Lowman and Brown – it was still the biggest game on each school’s schedule but turned into more of a community event with a broader purpose.
For years now, the schools have had various fundraisers to battle, for instance, cancer.
When one of the Trojans’ assistant coaches had surgery for cancer, folks from Maiden provided financial help.
Rest assured that winning the game still means a whole lot to both teams. And fans still ask the head coaches the same question – “How we gonna be and are we gonna beat (Maiden or Bandys)?”
Maiden not losing in the first 28 games (25-0-3) will always be a part of the story line of the series, as it should be, and Bandys will probably never catch up (13-48-3 record).
But when the series gets to 100 games — let’s hope there’s no more discussion of merging Maiden and Bandys (which would be become an athletic powerhouse) — that it remains part of the fabric of Catawba County football history.