It’s been pretty obvious through the years that my favorite team to tease and to see the Chargers beat is Grand Valley. With no other team have I had more fun…and gotten cease and desist emails from than the Lakers. I figured I couldn’t just wrap up the site without some final thoughts on what I affectionately call the evil empire. For some dumb reason there will always be a special spot in my heart for the Lakers. It’s weird. I despise that place but when we finished GLIAC play last year it felt like a piece of my football heart would be missing from here forward.
It was during the last time Hillsdale and Grand Valley played football when a great moment of clarity hit me. I was standing in the Muddy Waters Stadium pressbox while talking to longtime D2football.com blogger Tony Nicolette and GVSU sports information director Tim Nott. Across the way the Hillsdale pep band was playing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”.
“That right there gentlemen is our rivalry over the past 20 years,” I stated and the more I think about it, it’s so true.
It’s too bad the iconic 80’s director John Hughes left us far too soon. Grand Valley vs. Hillsdale would make a great addition to his filmographies of teen movies. Here’s why.
It’s kind of like when McDreamy was a nerd and paid that cheerleader to date him but in the end she actually did like him…yeah, something like that.
Grand Valley is basically the popular pretty girl who seems like she’s nice and even acts like she likes us…in a just friends way…but the major popularity is too much to control and deep down she’s really kind of snotty, even though she might not want to be.
Hillsdale is the nerdy kid who thinks he’s a lot cooler than what he probably is. He tries to hang out at the socially elite lunch table or in the “cool” parking lot but as hard as he tries he’s still that square peg in a round hole.
Hillsdale fans have drifted off to sleep the last 20 years dreaming about dating Grand Valley in the most beautiful romance Division II Football has ever seen. How come though? What makes the Chargers want to put up with such a snot? I mean Hillsdale is 2-13 in their last 15 meetings with the Lakers, having been outscored by an average of 20 points per game. Well, it wasn’t always like that.
You see long ago when these two were younger, Hillsdale and Grand Valley had something really special. It couldn’t be anymore 80’s teen romance cliché. They were elementary school besties who played at recess and at each other’s houses on the weekends for playdates. They figured they’d always be together and their moms would joke about planning a wedding some day.
From 1980 to 1997 Hillsdale and Grand Valley split their 18 meetings with 9 wins a piece. The Chargers averaged 20.7 points per game in the series and the Lakers averaged 19.1. It couldn’t have been a closer series and it was built on great competitiveness and mutual respect. And then these two didn’t see each other for a couple of years. When they finally got back together in 2000 they played a great game but things were different and never would be the same.
Grand Valley had gotten really pretty and they were about to grab some really big shot new friends, like the best other teams in the country. That night in Hillsdale, eventual Division II superstars QB Curt Anes and WR David Kircus hooked up on a game winning miracle pass for the win. From there Grand Valley would reach the national championship game during the next six seasons, winning four of them and the Lakers would be the absolute darling of the division for the better part of the next decade.
These two would get together just about every year because their parents were in the same association and would take turns visiting each others’ home. Every year Hillsdale would hope that some of that old magic might be rekindled between them and this stunner, spurring a new run of romance. It’d be nine years of falling flat on their faces for Hillsdale and it always seemed worse over at her house. You know, over there it felt like there was always someone reminding you about just how pretty GVSU had gotten and who their new friends were. One time some old timer in the press box even griped to me that somehow when Hillsdale came over “it’s like Christ feeding the 5000. Everybody looking for a free meal.” It just wasn’t like going over there in the old days.
And then 2009 happened. Grand Valley might tell you she was off her game or maybe bored that October Saturday. What’s pretty certain is that Hillsdale had greatly stepped up its game. As Laker Justin Trumble’s 49 yard field attempt sailed wide and the Hillsdale student body rushed the field, the Chargers stole a kiss, and it was the greatest thing Hillsdale had felt in 16 years. Life got so good for Hillsdale after that they made the playoffs for the first time ever and won their first game setting up a second date with Grand Valley.
Grand Valley must’ve gotten some pretty nasty texts from her other snotty friends when they found out she’d lost to nerdy old Hillsdale. She was not in a good mood. It was not much fun for Hillsdale or the thousands of Charger alumni dressed in white that day who helped Grand Valley set a new stadium playoff attendance record.
With a whole level of self-confidence things would go a lot better for #11 Hillsdale the next September at #1 GVSU’s house. Well, it seemed like it anyway. With just 1:17 left and what looked like the upset in hand, Hillsdale leaned in to cap the night with a kiss….and….boom….got rejected. Grand Valley said she was sorry and just wasn’t feeling it and ran back a blocked extra point for 2 before she drove 53 yards for a TD and 2 point conversion and a 44-41 win. There’d be no sugar for Hillsdale that night but the spark did seem like it was coming back between these two.
The next year in Hillsdale the Chargers would log yet another win over Grand Valley. It would be their last though as things got kinda messy at the end when Hillsdale made good on a second chance game winning field goal made possible by a GVSU penalty on a previously unsuccessful try.
Things had already started to get messy between Hillsdale’s dad and a bunch of the other parents in the association. You see, Hillsdale’s dad had long wished his son would just realize he’d be better off hanging out with the nerdier kids instead of trying to be so cool. Hillsdale offered up a lot of reasons as to why his old man was wrong and that there would always be something special between him and Grand Valley. Hillsdale’s dad can be a bit of an autocrat though and said he was done with people like that and that the family had already joined a new association.
Change is always hard and Hillsdale figures that probably someday he’ll come to like and maybe even strike up a new romance with someone special from this new association. He’s patiently waiting as he’s only been impressed with a couple of kids so far and they were from the old association anyway. In his heart Hillsdale also knows that nothing will ever be as sweet as stealing another kiss from GVSU.
Who knows? Maybe fate has a sequel in the works…..like a meet up in the national championship game…with a beautifully choreographed happy Charger Blue ending.
A guy can dream; can’t he?