The 71st meeting of the Grove Ridgerunners and the Jay Bulldogs football teams will take place this Friday at 7:30 PM at Ridgerunner Stadium.
At least it seems to be the 71st meeting. There is documentation to support the fact that a game between Jay and Grove was played in 1928; but there is no information attached to it that would give a score. (see sidebar for a full run down)
In any event the game has been played annually since 1949 after a brief hiatus during the WWII years. Game results from before the war were hard to come by, and in some cases contradictory. If there is a mistake on our list please accept all apologies.
The Ridgerunners lead the series 44-23-2 and have won the last five meetings.
A look back at all of the “big” games from this biggest of rivalries would be a daunting task. To simplify matters, we’ve gone back 40 years to the 1968 game and researched the ensuing games from 10 years on.
Pouring through old copies of the Grove Sun on microfilm at the Grove City Library led to the discovery of most all of the information presented here. The staff at the library was very helpful and their service and resources is an asset to this community.
Jay 18, Grove 0
@ Grove stadium
For the fourth year in a row the Grove-Jay football game would decide the district representative in the state playoffs.
The Ridgerunners entered the game under legendary head coach J. E. Landon but they were short a few hands. Lineman Jerry Brixey, a junior, and senior lineman Mark Cotner were out with injuries. Also missing from the Grove line up were two “speedy backs” seniors Keith Fields and Brad Farrell.
The Bulldogs were led by head coach Glen Hamby and featured Greg Teel and Mack Bingham at ends with quarterback Dickie Howe anchoring the offensive unit.
The playing conditions for the game were miserable as noted in The Sun:
“It was the worst playing conditions in the history of the new stadium after heavy rains left pools in many areas. Only the excellent turf made it possible to play the game.”
The contemporary report also referred to the stadium as Grove stadium with a lower case s.
Five Grove fumbles led to a Bulldog shutout. Jay would go on to face Collinsville in the first round of the playoffs.
Ridgerunner fans could take some solace in the fact that senior tailback Mike Spicer led the conference in scoring with 107 points. The three year starter racked up 15 touchdowns and 17 PAT’s in ’68. The Bulldogs’ Howe finished second in that category with 62 points.
Grove 27, Jay 0
@ Ridgerunner Stadium
The ’78 GHS squad consisted of 68 players under the direction of head coach Charlie Cooper.
The stadium was now referred to as Ridgerunner Stadium and it featured a wooden press box where the concrete one resides today. Before the season started Mr. Terry Hembree of Action Sign Company painted the Ridgerunner mascot on the front of the box. This was the older Ridgy design, the one with the straight back and puffed chest, and he wasn’t referred to as Ridgy in the contemporary report.
This year the contest with Jay was the district opener for both teams, the fourth game of the season.
The Ridgerunners entered the event with a 1-2 record, sandwiching a win over Bentonville between losses to Miami and Commerce, respectively.
The Bulldogs, led by head coach Ken Rader, had yet to post a win for the ’78 season, dropping games to Seneca (MO), Collinsville, and Pryor to open their campaign.
The Ridgerunners rolled up 285 yards and took the shutout win. Quaterback Marc Cooper, a Jay assistant football coach now, scored two rushing touchdowns while running back Sam Pittman took two scores; one a rush and the other on a halfback pass to Russell Bunch.
The Bulldogs had a chance to score when Roger Gilley pulled in an interception to give Jay a short field. However, a stalled drive led to a missed field goal.
The Jay team captains that season were Rick Woods, Rick Mouse, and Mike Barnes.
After the game Coach Cooper was quoted as saying he was “real pleased” with the win.
Grove 32, Jay 14
@ Ridgerunner Stadium
The opening lines of The Sun report, penned by current GHS Soccer Head Coach Sean Botts, tell the story:
“Running back Linc Bassett rushed for 108 yards on 22 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns as Grove beat Jay 32-14…”
(Good job, Coach!)
The Ridgerunners were coached by Joe McCulley, his second year at the helm, and the win marked a return to the playoffs for the Grove troops.
“Getting into the playoffs is a new experience for us,” McCulley was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were coached by Chris Gwartney in his inaugural season with the team.
Jay took an early 8-6 lead when a Ridgerunner fumble in the shadow of their own goalpost led to a David Kyles rushing score. Kevin Culver ran in the conversion to put the Bulldogs on top.
The Ridgerunners racked up 349 total yards of offense and besides the Bassett scores were able to post a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Joe Potter to Jason McReynolds.
The win was considered an upset as the Bulldogs were attempting to take their fifth consecutive Delaware County Bowl. The win marked the only Ridgerunner victory in the series between the years 1984 and 1993.
Grove 31, Jay 28
@ J.B. Earp Stadium
Current Bulldog Head Coach Shane Holland was in his first year as the Ridgerunner Head Coach in 1998.
Jesse Webb was the Jay head coach.
Grove entered the game beat up.
“We’re down to 34 healthy bodies,” Coach Holland was quoted as saying. “We started (the season) with 56.”
While previous games in the series had playoff births on the line this edition of the Delaware County Bowl was being played for pride and pride alone.
The Ridgerunners took a 2-7 record into Earp Stadium that night. Grove had lost four halftime leads throughout the season.
For the Bulldogs the situation was even more dire. Without a win against Grove the Jay troops would call the ’98 season a “perfect” one as they had posted an 0-9 record to that point.
In the event the Ridgerunners took a halftime lead but, as had happened previously that season, the opposition began a rally and by the time the fourth quarter rolled around Grove was hanging onto a precarious 24-20 lead.
With the wind at their backs the Bulldogs’ special teams unit pinned the Grove offense inside their own 1 yard line and the Jay troops were smelling blood in the water. But (!), the first snap of the series saw Grove’s Granvall Hogner sprint 99 yards for a touchdown to effectively slam the door on the resurgent Jay team.
Hogner finished the night with 187 yards rushing and Grove quarterback Ryan Handle went 15 of 29 through the air for 263 yards.
Jay’s Robbie Studie returned a punt for a touchdown and running back Mark Pickle carried the ball 33 times for 182 yards.
THE DELAWARE COUNTY BOWL
1928 NO SCORE
1929 9– 2 GROVE
1930 NO GAME
1931 36- 0 GROVE
1932 29- 0 GROVE
1935 6- 0 JAY
1936 13- 7 JAY
1937 13- 7 GROVE
1938 20- 0 GROVE
1939 12- 0 GROVE
1940 24- 0 GROVE
1941 6- 6 TIE
1942-1948 NO GAME
1949 24- 7 JAY
1950 7- 6 GROVE
1951 7- 0 GROVE
1952 39- 6 GROVE
1953 28-24 GROVE
1954 39-13 JAY
1955 32-12 GROVE
1956 41-19 GROVE
1957 34- 0 GROVE
1958 24- 0 GROVE
1959 40- 0 GROVE
1960 32- 6 GROVE
1961 8- 6 JAY
1962 20- 0 GROVE
1963 30-12 GROVE
1964 8- 6 GROVE
1965 54- 6 JAY
1966 20- 8 JAY
1967 40- 0 JAY
1968 18- 0 JAY
1969 18- 0 GROVE
1970 37-14 GROVE
1971 6- 6 TIE
1972 41-12 GROVE
1973 13- 6 GROVE
1974 49- 6 GROVE
1975 7- 0 JAY
1976 21-13 GROVE
1977 40- 0 JAY
1978 27- 0 GROVE
1979 37- 0 GROVE
1980 14- 3 GROVE
1981 21-10 GROVE
1982 6- 0 GROVE
1983 14- 0 GROVE
1984 21- 0 JAY
1985 28- 0 JAY
1986 40- 7 JAY
1987 35-12 JAY
1988 32-14 GROVE
1989 28-20 JAY
1990 30-28 JAY
1991 13- 0 JAY
1992 28-16 JAY
1993 20-18 JAY
1994 35- 7 GROVE
1995 17- 6 GROVE
1996 41-17 GROVE
1997 14- 7 GROVE
1998 31-28 GROVE
1999 34-24 GROVE
2000 37-13 JAY
2001 36-32 JAY
2002 39-20 JAY
2003 14- 0 GROVE
2004 35- 0 GROVE
2005 40-21 GROVE
2006 34- 0 GROVE
2007 42-17 GROVE
GROVE leads series 44-23-2