Devaney: Rye-Harrison Rivalry
There’s something you should know about the Rye-Harrison football rivalry. Take everything you’ve learned in the first five weeks of the season in Section 1 and disregard it. None of it matters when these two teams play.
Don’t bother looking at stats, matching up scores or trying to compare personnel. “The Game” as it’s known around the area is an appropriate title for the matchup. It’s one day that becomes a season into itself.
Saturday at Rye will be the 80th — and one of the most unique — meeting between Rye and Harrison. This installment has a feel to it unlike any of the 12 that I’ve been a part of. In the previous 11, the favorite has won, including Rye in each of the last seven contests. This, though, is the first time that Harrison is expected to win.
But it might not follow that formula. What makes this meeting so intriguing is the mirrored mindset of these two programs. For the first time that I can remember, there’s true desperation on both sides. There’s pressure on both to win (far more than the usual community/alumni pressure that’s part of this rivalry every year).
Harrison is desperate to finally end this losing streak. Rye is desperate to not only avoid being the team that “finally” loses to Harrison, but prove it can be a legitimate factor in the Class A playoffs.
In high school football, it’s hard to put your faith in a team that’s “desperate” to win. So what do you do when they both are? There’s really no answer. The rivalry has been defined clearly by the “Eras” and, right now, this is a “Rye Era” of winning. So I went back in the last seven Rye-Harrison meetings, all Rye wins, and attempted to discover why they went the way they did.
What stood out most to me were the point-differentials. Look at these scores:
Year | Score
2003 | Rye 21, Harrison 7; Rye 22, Harrison 15
2004 | No game
2005 | Rye 14, Harrison 0
2006 | Rye 19, Harrison 18
2007 | Rye 27, Harrison 7
2008 | Rye 28, Harrison 3
2009 | Rye 21, Harrison 7
Combined, Rye has outscored Harrison 152-57 in the seven contests or by an average of 21.7 to 8.1.
That’s 8.1 points per game by Harrison. Were the Huskies not a good offensive team in those years? Absolutely not. This is a Harrison program that won a Section 1 Class A championship in 2005 and 2006 (Rye won the B title from 2003-2009, including three state championships).
In those years, Harrison was not only a good offensive team, it was one of the Top 5 offensive teams in Section 1. Look at the Huskies’ points per game during this seven-year streak when you take away the Rye games:
Year | Points (not vs. Rye)/Other games: Avg | Pts. vs. Rye
2003 | 206 points/8 games: 25.8 ppg | 7 and 15 vs. Rye
2005 | 345 points/11 games: 31.4 ppg | 0 vs. Rye
2006 | 98 points/10 games: 39.8 ppg | 18 vs. Rye
2007 | 195 points/8 games: 24.4 ppg | 7 vs. Rye
2008 | 178 points/8 games: 22.3 ppg | 3 vs. Rye
2009 | 222 points/8 games: 27.5 ppg | 7 vs. Rye
Total: 1,544 points/53 games: 29.1 ppg
Total vs Rye: 57 points/7 games: 8.1 ppg
How do you explain a 21-point —that’s three whole touchdowns —difference between games Harrison has played against everyone else and its games against Rye? This isn’t a small sample size, either. This is seven seasons where Harrison went a combined 50-13 in games outside of Rye.
What does this mean for this season? Well, Harrison is 5-0 and is averaging 26.4 points per game, a number skewed slightly for playing only two quarters in a lightning-shortened contest against winless Saunders.
My point is, in this rivalry, you cannot simply look at scores and think you can forecast an outcome. Harrison again comes into Saturday’s game one of the top offensive teams in the section. But there’s something to be said about the pressure of playing in this game, the familiarity Rye has with the Huskies triple-option and the general mystique the Garnets have built over the past seven seasons.
Harrison is the favorite to win on Saturday. But it will have to disprove the statistics of the past seven years to do so.
Rye-Harrison Facts and Figures
Information courtesy of “The Old Garnet”
| W-L-T | Pct | Points For | Shutouts
Harrison | 41-34-4 | .539 | 1,036 | 18
Rye | 35-41-3 | .461 | 989 | 16
By the Decades
Year | Record
1920s | Harrison 1-0-0
1930s | Harrison 4-2-1
1940s | Harrison 5-4-1
1950s | Rye 8-2-0
1960s | Harrison 6-3-1
1970s | Harrison 7-3-0
1980s | Rye 6-4-0
1990s | Harrison 9-1-0
2000s | Rye 8-3-0
* Rye’s two consecutive 33-game winning streaks were each snapped by Harrison (’51-’55 and ’56-’60)
* Harrison’s two longest winning streaks in the rivalry were 8 (’75-’82) and 6 (’90-’95)
* Rye currently has a six-game winning streak. Its previous long was four, which is did four times, most recently ’83-’86
* In 2002 and 2003, the teams played twice. Harrison won both in ’02 and Rye won both in ’03* There was no game in 2004 because the teams were in different classes and there was no flexibility in the schedule
State Football Championship Results
Year | Class | Score
2008 | Class B | Rye def. Oneida, 16-12
2007 | Class B | Rye def. Chenango Forks, 19-12
2005 | Class B | Rye def. Chenango Forks, 28-7
2004 | Class B | Chenango Forks def. Rye, 48-0
2003 | Class B | Chenango Forks def. Rye 16-0
2002 | Class B | Harrison def. Chenango Forks, 22-21
1999 | Class B | Harrison def. Lackawanna, 28-26
1998 | Class B | Lackawanna def. Harrison, 22-18
1993 | Class C | Caledonia-Mumford def. Rye, 38-19
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.