For more than 30 years, the Oak Ridge-Ponderosa football games have packed the stands in both El Dorado Hills and Shingle Springs as one of the oldest rivalries in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
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Last month’s Delta River League matchup at Simon-Bruin Stadium between the two was their last league game. Next season, due to realignment, Oak Ridge returns to the Sierra Foothill League while Ponderosa is in the Capital Valley Conference.
Initially, the two schools agreed to play each other in nonleague next year. However, Oak Ridge athletic director Steve White and Ponderosa athletic director Tyson Escobar confirmed to the Mountain Democrat the rivalry has been placed on hold for at least two years.
“Due to the new playoff system where wins are important, we have decided to go in a different direction due to competition inequity,” Escobar stated in a text message.
He added, “We are doing what is in the best interests of our program at this time.”
Competitive inequity along with enrollment disparities has caused the Ponderosa-El Dorado gridiron relationship (1963-2010) and the Bruin-Union Mine rivalry (1999-2013) to cease.
According to calpreps.com, Ponderosa has 1,901 students to El Dorado’s 1,465. Union Mine athletic director/football coach Dave Johnson noted the Diamondbacks’ school size (1,046 students per calpreps.com) is the reason to end the rivalry.
“We do want to have competitive, spirited games that are fair for both sides,” Escobar said. “Unfortunately it has become one-sided for each of us and it is not fun or fair to the losing side.”
Since joining the Delta River League in 2010, Ponderosa has had a rough go; the opposite for Oak Ridge.
White fully understands Escobar’s stance.
“It’s unfortunate because our rivalry is a good and friendly rivalry, and our communities look for those types of games every year,” White said. “The communities always have fun and it brings everybody together.”
Will Oak Ridge and Ponderosa fans love to see the rivalry continue in 2016? Most will say yes. Time will tell.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.