RIVALS SERIES: Up next in Week 4 is the War by the Shore, St. Joseph vs. Stevensville Lakeshore
The Rivalry Series started with a bang, as STATE CHAMPS! Network went to the shores of Lake Michigan to cover the second-longest-running rivalry in MHSAA history, Ludington at Manistee, in Week 3 of the regular season.
The Orioles won 45-14, reclaiming the Dad’s Club trophy for the first time in three seasons, and getting off to just its fourth 3-0 start in 30 seasons.
Each week the rest fo the regular season — with the exception of a break in Week 8 — the STATE CHAMPS! Rivalry Series will feature one of the top rivalry games across the state.
Our tentative schedule the rest of the way:
Week 5 — Stevensville Lakeshore at St. Joseph (the War by the Shore)
Week 6 — Stockbridge at Leslie
Week 7 — Otsego at Plainwell
Week 9 — Midland at Midland Dow
This week’s matchup:
STEVENSVILLE LAKESHORE (2-1, 1-0 SMAC West)
at ST. JOSEPH (3-0, 1-0 SMAC West)
Separated by just less than six miles of Cleveland Avenue along the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, in the neighboring Berrien County cities of St. Joseph and Stevensville, the two rival high schools didn’t begin playing immediately when Lakeshore opened in 1957, until St. Joseph filled the Lancers’ previously open Week 1 as a non-conference game four years later.
The two teams have played 62 times in the 57 years since the rivalry — dubbed “the War by the Shore” — began in 1961, including nine playoff meetings. Lakeshore leads the all-time series 33-29, and has won the last seven, including the 2018 matchup by a 13-10 score, in overtime.
It certainly wasn’t always that way.
Outscored 212-20 over the first six matchups, the Lancers wouldn’t get their first win in the series until 1972, winning that game 14-0 to snap an 0-11 skid against the Bears.
St. Joseph went 21-2 against Lakeshore through 1984, but legendary Lakeshore coach Denny Dock went 24-8 over the next quarter century. That included a 17-game win streak following a 17-14 overtime win in 1989, Dock’s first win in the rivalry series, and the one he called his biggest win.
It remained the Week 1 matchup every season until 1983, when Lakeshore didn’t have a team for the first two weeks of the season, then resumed for one game — a 34-0 St. Joseph win — in 1984, before taking a four-year hiatus due to scheduling issues. The series resumed in 1989 as a Week 9 matchup, and it would stay that way until moving back to Week 1 in 1999.
It changed to a Week 7 matchup in 2001, when Lakeshore joined the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC) West, and was either Week 6 or 7 for nearly a dozen years. It moved to the league opener in Week 3 in 2013, then slid back to Week 4 in 2014 — after the SMAC shrank to 11 teams — where it’s been for the past five years.
The teams battle for the Anchor Trophy in the series.
St. Joseph has made the playoffs 11 of the last 13 seasons, but Lakeshore is riding a streak of 21 straight playoff appearances — every year since 1998 — a streak that’s tied for the third-longest active run. Only Rockford (24 years) and Crystal Falls Forest Park (22 years) have longer streaks, while Jackson Lumen Christi has also made the playoffs 21 straight seasons.
Lakeshore: Kohn-Lehmann Field at Al Stockman Stadium
St. Joseph: Steve Upton Field at Dickinson Stadium
Coaching marks in the rivalry
Dick Higgs — 1954-63 — 3 W, 0 L
Willis Koontz — 1964-67 — 4 W, 0 L
Ivan “Ike” Muhlenkamp — 1968-01 — 16 W, 14 L (0-1 in playoffs)
John Van Wagoner — 2002-05 — 0 W, 4 L
Elliot Uzelac — 2006-10 — 5-5 L (3-2 in playoffs)
Gandalf Church — 2011-18 — 1 W, 10 L (0-3 in playoffs)
Andrew Pratley (present)
Denny Dock — 1988-2013 — 24 W, 8 L (4-3 in playoffs)
Bryan Keim — 2014-present — 7 W, 0 L (2-0 in playoffs)
(Dock’s predecessors were 2-21)
Rankings on MHSAA coaching list:
Dock 262 wins (also coached at Hartford, 1981-83; Dowagiac, 1984-87) — 20th all-time
Muhlenkamp 233 wins (also coached at Albion, 1965-67) — 38th all-time