Local Sports from The Courier
Thursday, December 13, 2012Boys Basketball: Bullfrog Road Trophy added to huge rivalry
The rivalry between Hopewell-Loudon and New Riegel goes far back in time, and it has typically reached its height when the schools' high school boys basketball teams meet.
Beginning tonight, a new element will be involved in the boys hoops matchup. The winner of tonight's contest at Hopewell-Loudon will, at least until next season, own the Battle of Bullfrog Road Trophy.
"This rivalry goes back a long time," New Riegel coach Todd Aichholz said. "There's always a big crowd. This will add a nice touch to the rivalry."
A basketball and a sign reading "Bullfrog Road 110" sit on the trophy's base, and atop the ball is a replica of a bullfrog.
The winner of each year's boys basketball game will store the traveling trophy, at least until the next season, at an area restaurant -- PJ's Brickhouse in Bascom for Hopewell-Loudon and Bubby's Family Tavern in New Riegel. Each establishment will provide pizza for the rival school's team when it wins.
The Battle of Bullfrog Road moniker originated in the late 1960s with then Review Times sports editor Larry Donald, according to Steve Bouillon, a 1970 New Riegel graduate who is in his 29th year as his alma mater's athletic director. The name refers to Hopewell Township Road 110 -- aka Bullfrog Road -- which was perceived to be the borderline between the two school districts. The two schools lie just five miles apart.
"It wasn't actually the border, but it was a catchy name and it stuck," said Bouillon, who noted that the border has actually changed several times through the years.
Bouillon said a New Riegel student took down the actual "Bullfrog Road" sign after a victory in the 1960s and the sign changed hands between the schools for years before falling out of circulation.
Perceptions of the rivalry's intensity through the years depend on whom one asks. Hopewell-Loudon coach Adam Smith said he read one man's opinion that the intensity had waned in recent years but the sectional championship game last season between the two schools, won 58-54 by New Riegel, had reminded him of days gone by.
Certainly, the rivalry is a natural because of the proximity, among other factors.
"Everybody seems to know everybody or to be related," Smith said. "In last year's tournament game, there was definitely a presence of the rivalry."
Smith decided to see what he could do to enhance the rivalry.
"At our (Midland Athletic League) preseason meeting, I asked Todd what he thought (of the idea of a trophy) and he was all for it," Smith said.
"The big thing is you play for pride," Aichholz said. "Now there's something you can actually hold in your hand."
And it's something Aichholz said has already become a topic of conversation for his players.
"They think it's a great idea," he said.
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