KEYSER - The area's most heated and intense rivalries are no doubt Keyser versus Frankfort and Fort Hill versus Allegany. When Keyser and Frankfort strap it up in football, or any other sport, even tiddly winks, there's bound to be intense action. In Cumberland, it's long been joked that a “mixed-marriage” is one that involves the union of a Fort Hill and Allegany graduate.
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - The area’s most heated and intense rivalries are no doubt Keyser versus Frankfort and Fort Hill versus Allegany. When Keyser and Frankfort strap it up in football, or any other sport, even tiddly winks, there’s bound to be intense action. In Cumberland, it’s long been joked that a “mixed-marriage” is one that involves the union of a Fort Hill and Allegany graduate.
The Keyser/Frankfort rivalry only dates back to 1976 with the creation of Frankfort High School through the consolidation of Ridgeley and Fort Ashby high schools. Fort Hill and Allegany, despite playing 96 times, is a rivalry that only dates back to 1936 with the creation of Fort Hill High school. Only 43 years? Only 83 years? Yes, only.
When it comes to the “Granddaddy of them all” local rivalry, the area’s oldest, Keyser and Allegany, goes back over 100 years with 104 games in total played between the two schools. When the two squared off for the first time on the gridiron, the world was right smack in the middle of World War I, Einstein had discovered the Theory of Relativity, the cost of a first class stamp was two cents, and America’s last stagecoach robbery occurred in Nevada.
“It's really a special game. We are talking about a rivalry that dates back over 100 years. Let that sink in a little bit; most schools haven't been around for half that amount of time. For both schools to have that commitment to play each other is a pretty rare thing. I have no idea what Allegany thinks about this game but I know for us it's huge in terms of our tradition and history,” Keyser coach Sean Biser explained.
Over 100 years, that’s a rivalry with serious staying power. Allegany enjoys a 70-32-2 record in the rivalry all-time, winning slightly more than two-thirds of the games played in the series. Keyser, however, has won three of the last five, six of the last ten, eight of the last 15, and 12 of the last 20. This includes the Black and Gold’s 33-20 victory over the Campers at Greenway Avenue Stadium a season ago.
While Keyser and Allegany played a marginally close contest a year ago, the two teams are on two totally different trajectories this season. Keyser opened the season with six straight wins, destroying literally everything in their path, and is coming off a bye week. Allegany, by contrast, opened the season with three straight losses, won two games in a row, then suffered a devastating 54-28 loss to Silver Oak a week ago.
Keyser is seemingly at full strength, well rested and highly motivated to tackle what lies ahead. Allegany, by contrast, is suffering greatly from a numbers crunch and series of serious injuries. The Campers have cancelled the remainder of their junior varsity season to stock their varsity squad with able bodies. To their credit, despite the tough circumstances, the student athletes that remain on the Allegany roster are fighting through the adversity with grit and effort.
“Having the bye week allowed our kids to re-charge mentally and let us get back to some fundamentals that needed brushed up on. Hopefully it allows us to improve as a team and to get some younger guys extra reps to prepare for this late stretch of tough games. The big down side is if you’re playing well you don't want to disrupt the rhythm you have developed up to this point. You tend to develop that rust when you have a week off so that is our big concern,” Biser stated.
Keyser has tallied wins against Robert C. Byrd (56-7), Berkeley Springs (59-0), Petersburg (59-0), Weir (49-0), Nicholas County (63-0) and Hampshire (62-0). They have outscored their opponents by a combined 348-7 for an average of 58-1 per game
Allegany’s two wins have come over Albert Gallatin (49-28) and Smithsburg (32-18). The Campers have suffered losses to Lackey (21-7), Boonsboro (28-27), Mountain Ridge (37-14) and Silver Oak (54-28). On the season, Allegany has been outscored on average 31-26 per game.
Currently, Keyser sits in sole possession of second place in this week’s WVSSAC class AA playoff ratings, edging out Poca who is in third place by .12 points (11.83 to 11.71). The top two seeds in the playoffs are guaranteed home playoff games through the semi-finals, a position every team, certainly including Keyser, desires. If the playoffs began today, Keyser would host Mingo Central in first-round playoff action.
By contrast, in this week’s MPSSAA playoff ratings, Allegany sits in ninth position out of 12 teams in the Maryland 1A West Region. In the new Maryland playoff format, there is a nine-game regular season, then the playoffs begin with the top eight teams in each region qualifying for the post-season. As the current ninth seed, if the post-season began today, Allegany would be on the outside looking in.
The true test for Keyser entering this contest would be if they were looking ahead Allegany to the Bridgeport game next week. For Coach Biser, that won’t be an issue, “We haven't even discussed Bridgeport with our kids; we have one game to prepare for and that is Allegany. ‘This Play’ is totally focused on the Campers. We have watched enough film to understand that Allegany has the talent and ability to beat us, so being a favorite means absolutely nothing when you line up and snap that ball.”