With Mill Valley’s impending move to the Sunflower League, it appears the Jaguars and St. James have played their final football game for the foreseeable future.
This was a rivalry I cut my teeth in as a young journalist and one that I’ve cherished through the years. I have nothing but fond memories when these two teams met.
Friday’s 27-7 Mill Valley victory cemented – for now – what has been the norm since these two teams have started playing as Mill Valley holding a commanding series lead. However, these games are always competitive and there’s no doubt there’s a little bit of pride on the line.
The schools are separated by less than seven miles with not only the coaches and players knowing each other really well, but the student bodies, too. The smack talk picks up and the gameday environment is electric.
It’s fitting that St. James and Mill Valley entered the Eastern Kansas League together. On one hand you had St. James, a school that was independent for so long, finally find a natural home and fit with longtime parochial school members Bishop Miege and St. Thomas Aquinas.
On the other, you had Mill Valley, which outgrew the now-defunct Kaw Valley League. Mill Valley made perfect sense for the Eastern Kansas League – a school that was in the middle of a back-to-back state title run joining a football powerhouse league.
Having the Jaguars in the Eastern Kansas League still makes sense, but as they are one the verge of moving up to 6A, the Sunflower League also makes sense as it joins the Shawnee Mission schools and bridges Western Shawnee to Lawrence.
I can't pinpoint to an exact game that was my favorite except for the "next one." I'm not sure when the next one will be but hope it's a rematch in the playoffs later this fall. I hope one day this rivalry rekindles, but until something is officially rescheduled, all we have are the memories.