October 17, 2013 | 251 views
The big game – Archrivals Freeport and Baldwin to meet Saturday
Blame it on the Spartans. They invented football back in 500 B.C., using a ball that was kicked, passed or carried across the opponent’s goal line. The Romans added the leather ball and the British perfected the game before it made its way to our shores.
Fast forward several hundred years. It is a bright autumn morning and two groups of boys – one from Freeport and the other from Baldwin – stand on the opposite sides of Milburn Creek. One of the boys holds a football under his arm and calls to the other boys across the creek, “you want to play football?”
And so it began – a bittersweet rivalry between friends and neighbors that has lasted decades. This Saturday, Freeport Homecoming, at 3 p.m., Freeport’s Red Devils and Baldwin’s Bruins will meet on Freeport’s high school field to decide who reigns supreme, at least for this year.
The Red Devils are 3-2 this season, beating Hempstead this past Saturday. The Bruins are also at 3-2, losing to Farmingdale Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter what comes before this game. This is the game you want to win,” said Bruin Coach Steve Carroll.
Red Devil Coach Russ Cellan put it another way. “We always play to win but this game draws the fans.”
Jonathan Bloom, Athletic Director at Freeport High School, agreed. “This game draws about 1,000 people. The fan base here is huge. I get calls from alumni all the time. Many have said they will be here. It’s the Baldwin game and it’s our homecoming,” he said.
Baldwin also expects its fans to be there on Saturday. “We’ve had great crowds all season – 1,500 to 2,000 people. It’s been packed and this game might draw even more people. It’s just a quarter mile down the road, and it’s Freeport. That rivalry goes way back,” said Coach Carroll.
The first Freeport-Baldwin game took place in 1922. “In those days all you needed was 11 guys, things weren’t that specific,” explained Coach Carroll. Freeport won that year and the next. In 1924, Baldwin beat out Freeport but the Red Devils then went on a winning streak until 1931 when “the [Baldwin] Board of Education hired Coach George Craig,” said Coach Carroll. “He was told if you beat Freeport, you have a coaching job for life. And he did. He was Baldwin’s coach for 30 years.”