Seeing Both Sides of the Backyard Bowl Rivalry

Thursday, July 28th 2011, 5:24 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Dec 1, 2009 5:37 PM CDT

Kyle Dierking
Oklahoma Sports Reporter

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Steven Stadler knows how it feels to fall in the state championship.

“It was disappointing. I was just like any kid that wants to go out and win a gold ball,” Stadler said.

Stadler is a part of the defending state champion Union Redskins, but he was on the losing end of last year’s title game – Stadler played for Jenks.

“It’s a little different. There’s not many people who have played on both sides of the game,” Stadler said.

He’s spent all but two years in the Union school system. After playing his sophomore and junior year for the Trojans, Stadler rejoined the Redskins for his senior season.

“They took me in really well. I was surprised – I thought there would be some mixed feelings on it,” Stadler said. “I was real happy to get back and playing with the kids I grew up with.”

The Union/Jenks rivalry is the biggest high school showdown in the state of Oklahoma, but it’s always been described as a friendly rivalry by both teams.

“It’s just the way it is – a cross-town rival. We’re good friends off the field but we have to come out and compete on the field,” said Jenks offensive lineman Jake Alexander.

“They go to church together and hang out on weekends,” said Jenks interim coach Loren Montgomery. “It’s one of the things that makes this rivalry so special.”

For the second time this season Stadler will suit up against on the field foes and off the field friends, but being back on the Union side of the Backyard Bowl with his best friends is where he says he belongs.

“We played ball and won a championship together back in third grade,” Stadler said. “It’s cool to get back to playing with them and have a chance to win a championship for my senior year.”