Martins Ferry football + jersey No. 71 = Minder family.
The story starts in 1961 when Joe Minder served as a co-captain for the undefeated Purple Riders. He wore No. 71 and started a tradition that few know of to this date.
Joe's three brothers, Stanley, Clayton and Mike all donned the Purple-and-White No. 71 during their careers, but it gets better from there.
Joe's sister, Trish, had two sons, Chuck and PJ Eddy who wore Nos. 28 and 43, which total 71. Joe's other sister, Pam, had a son named Bobby who also wore No. 71. Joe's brother, Stanley, had a son Brian and a grandson, Michael, who both wore No. 71 during their playing days.
And it doesn't stop there.
That brings us to today's edition of the Purple Riders and No. 71, Kyle Staley, who happens to be the grandson of none other than Joe Minder!
What an amazing family tradition.
Not the Longest Rivalry
Although Bellaire and Martins Ferry have met more times on the football field than any other two Ohio Valley schools.
The Big Reds-Purple Riders' storied history is steeped in tradition, famous names and memorable plays.
Tonight's game should be along the same lines.
However, while Bellaire and Martins Ferry are playing for the 107th time, it is far from being the oldest, or longest running, in the Buckeye State.
Tonight's Troy at Piqua game is the longest running rivalry across the state, as the two Miami County teams have squared off 125 times, with the Trojans holding a slim, 60-59-6, edge. They actually started playing in 1899, but have played each other year-after-year since 1911.
I'm a proud graduate of Troy (1977) and can remember my senior year against the hated Indians. The game was at Troy Memorial Stadium, which held about 10,000 that year before an expansion project.
Both sides of the field were jam-packed and Troy won the toss. Larry Delwiche, a junior who would go on to punt for the Chicago Bears in the preseason some years later, returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, and the place went wild.
Troy won that game and gave me a 2-1 edge in the storied history of the rivalry.
Tonight's game, unlike the Bellaire-Martins Ferry matchup, doesn't have any playoff implications, but guess what? Despite both teams being 4-5, it doesn't need any ... it's Troy vs. Piqua!
Other Rivalry Games
Canton McKinley (7-1) and Massillon Washington (8-1) is the oldest rivalry in the Buckeye State as the two Stark County teams started playing way back in 1894.
They meet Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
Closer to the valley, New Philadelphia (8-1) and Dover (8-1) clash at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium in New Philly. They began their rivalry in 1896.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org