Within the confines of our fair county, there's no comparison to a great rivalry game. Whether it's Greenbrier/Lakeside, Evans/Greenbrier or Lakeside/Evans, it's bound to be a memorable matchup. Throw Harlem into the mix and anything goes.
But what about outside Columbia County?
Does the rivalry still hold when Lakeside meets Greenbrier in a faraway land?
Could the passionate high school camaraderie still hold so far away from the pregame pep rallies, message board chatter and step, step, step rants of Columbia County?
It does, and it did.
On April 17, 4,645 miles away from Columbia County, Brian Bratton (Lakeside class of 2000) started at wide receiver for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe.
Across the field, Ryan Bowers (Greenbrier class of 1999) lined up on special teams for the Berlin Thunder.
The former Columbia County rivals were sent to NFL Europe this spring by the NFL team that drafted them.
The result was an improbable Lakeside/Greenbrier matchup on another continent.
Bratton has been a regular starter for Cologne this year.
The Baltimore Ravens draft pick leads the Centurions in touchdown receptions and ranks second on the team with 14 receptions for 165 yards in five games.
He also serves as the team's kickoff returner with 222 yards on 13 returns.
Bowers, on the other hand, isn't a normal starter with the Thunder.
The Atlanta Falcons draft pick has worked his way up through special teams and has seen limited action this year.
In last Monday's NFL Europe game, Bowers stepped into the spotlight with five of the Thunder's six special teams tackles.
Two of Bowers' tackles came against Bratton. Bowers stopped him on two kickoff returns.
Bowers then got his chance to return a kickoff and took it 27 yards on the Thunder's second possession of the second half.
The game ended with Bowers' Thunder winning 24-13.
The contest, like all NFL Europe games, was televised on NFL Network, a channel owned and operated by the National Football League. One of the broadcast's final shots showed Bratton and Bowers, helmets off after the game, talking and walking off the field.
Although the two professional athletes were on different teams, the Columbia County camaraderie was still alive and well.
They'll play again Sunday, May 14, when Berlin plays at Cologne.
The game will start at 10 a.m.
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