Rivals reunite for a good cause

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Ian, Sophia and Sara Giammanco smile before a West Linn practice. Lance is a West Linn graduate and has helped organized this year’s alumni game.

Twice a week this summer, names from West Linn and Oregon City's past have gathering together on their old football fields.

After plenty of stretching they begin to run through light drills and a variety of plays all in anticipation for August 13.

On that day, West Linn and Oregon City alumni will strap on the pads once more for what's being called Battle for the Bridge. It will be a full-contact game between the rivals but, ultimately, everything is for a very worthy cause.

The game is a fundraiser, with tickets currently on sale, and all proceeds will go toward The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The idea for the game was born a few years ago. A West Linn alumni had an idea for a reality show that would feature a rematch of the 1994 rivalry game, an epic contest in the long-running series that saw the Pioneers win in double overtime.

But, this year, West Linn's Trent Tribou thought it might be fun to open the call to any interested alumni from the two schools.

He was looking for a way to hold a fundraiser for his goddaughter Sophia Giammanco who has Cystic Fibrosis.

Sophia's father Ian also played for West Linn and the pair started putting out feelers to friends and acquaintances who might be interested in playing one more game.

The word began to spread and a Facebook page was created. Both teams are still looking to round out their respective squads. West Linn has roughly 35 alumni scheduled for the game but would like those numbers to be around 45.

"It's been a lot of fun to reconnect with old coaches and we've met a lot of new people in the community," Tribou said.

Current and former West Linn coaches Ron Chappell, Tom Ogan, Joe Cerny and Gene Davis have also been helping at practices.

The ages of the participants vary widely with a member of the class of 1980 competing as well as 2011 graduate Brett Wilkerson.

The contest figures to be quite the event with organizers going above and beyond to make the atmosphere as similar to a Friday night prep game as possible.

"It should be a really good time. I know the guys are looking forward to it," Tribou said.

There will be an announcer and the traditional Lion burgers will be served.

And at halftime there will be a performance by the Oregon and West Linn debs, along with debs alumni. Alumni cheerleaders from each school are also being sought.

After the game, many of the athletes and fans will head to Li'l Cooperstown Bar and Grill and the restaurant has agreed to give 10 percent of the bill from anyone displaying their ticket stub toward the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The game will be at the West Linn High School field at 6 p.m. and tickets are $8 or $10 on the day of the game.

More information can be found at www.battleforthebridge.com.