Dec. 7, 1941 isn't the only day that will live in infamy - at least locally.
On Dec. 6 last year, the Evans and Lakeside basketball teams squared off at the Evans High School gymnasium. Fans from both schools fired verbal volleys across the court, and some of the sideline banter was on the raunchy side.
"I was at midcourt sitting on the sidelines with our fans," said Jeff Carney, Lakeside's principal. "The chants started small and caught on. Some of it was very inappropriate."
The controversial meeting sparked criticism from followers of each school, and after Carney and Evans Principal Don Brigdon laid down the law, things were toned down in subsequent contests last season between the Columbia County rivals.
"What happened last year was a wake-up call for all of us," Carney said.
Carney doesn't expect to see another circus this Friday night at Lakeside when the squads battle for the first time this basketball season - but he's not taking any chances.
Evans High student M.T. Giovino wears a trash bag at the Lakeside-Evans game in January. Giovino's garb was in response to a letter calling Evans students "trash."
Photo by Mike Howell
"There's going to be such a big crowd, and with it being a county rivalry game, we'll have nine deputies and the school public safety officers there," Carney said.
In fact, Carney already has made a preemptive strike.
"When we met with the students at the beginning of the school year, I told them, 'I hate to lecture you ...' But I did lecture them about what happened at the game last year," he said.
Carney plans to issue some reminders to his students this week. And if there are any problems Friday night, there will be consequences.
"Depending on what they do, (ejection from the game) would be the least of the punishment," he said. "Bad behavior could lead to a suspension from school. The big thing is the language and inappropriate signs. We want the kids to behave."
Evans Knights coach Kevin Kenny has his own bad behavior to deal with. His team was off to an 0-5 start, and he has noted a lack of intensity from his players.
When the Knights and Panthers tip off this Friday at 8:30 p.m. (the girls game starts at 7 p.m.), Kenny expects to see some fiery action on the court. Still, he wouldn't mind seeing less fireworks in the bleachers.
"Both groups of fans are great, but they just have to keep it clean and not get personal," Kenny said. "Most kids want to chant and have a good time. In the first game last year, a few stepped over the line."
That story line has played out between the schools since 1988, when Lakeside opened. The new school was composed of former Evans students, and a natural rivalry was born.
Games between Evans and Lakeside, in any sport, always get players and fans pumped up, but Kenny wouldn't mind seeing one thing change.
"People say this has been going on for years and years, but there is no place whatsoever for crudeness," Kenny said. "You have little kids in the stands, including my 11-year-old daughter. I don't want them to hear anything vulgar or negative. There's no place for that in high-school athletics."
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