The Glens Falls-Hudson Falls rivalry has been a staple of upstate New York football for generations. Starting in 1917, the two schools have gone toe to toe nearly every single year. Fifty years later, in 1967 the two schools decided to create a trophy to tell the story of this epic rivalry; the jug. Ever since then, this canvas for history has been plastered with plates that honor everything from forty point shootouts, to single digit battles. The one thing that these games have in common, is the passion of the fans. Glens Falls currently holds the winning record at 35-10 and have held onto the jug for the past three years.
I talked with Glens Falls’ coach of nineteen years, Pat Lilac. We discussed the Jug Game and everything that follows.
What was your first experience of the Jug Game?
“I don’t really remember a ton before I got the job but my first year was really something. I was a twenty-nine year old head coach, and to start the year we got beat by Johnstown and South High, two teams that we were better than. I thought I was in over my head. That Jug Game was the last game of the regular season and as the year went on I began to realize how important it was to the community, the kids, and the other coaches as well. We got a lot better during the year and it became a huge game for playoff implications. We ended up winning in a nail biter 21-14, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of the biggest games of my career to date.”
What stood out the most to you early on?
“I think it’s the importance to each community. How important these rivalry games are to not just the kids who are playing in it, but the former players, and even the people who don’t play sports and just live in the town. It’s a great sense of pride for the community.”
With Hudson Falls snapping their losing streak that lasted nearly a decade and a half in 2014, what did that do for the rivalry going forward?
“Every year we know it’s going to be a physical, hard-hitting game and both teams bring everything they’ve got. So I think that gave us a let’s not take anything for granted again. Not that we took that game for granted, they had a very good team that year. But you can’t take anything for granted in this game.”
How much have the players been talking about this game?
“I’ll give them credit, we haven’t until we were on our way home from Cobleskill Friday night. As coaches we were really worried about that Cobleskill game because we had them sandwiched between Schuylerville, a huge opener for us, and this week three. So we didn’t allow them to talk about the Jug Game until Friday night. Then, on the field at Cobleskill we that it’s now Jug Week and we ramped up the talk from there.”
Glens Falls fans can be very spirited when it comes to their teams. Is it hard to keep the players focused in that kind of environment?
“I think both teams are very passionate about their sports, and in the past things have gone a little overboard. I know we had an incident during a basketball game where tempers flared and we’ve had some football games get chippy. So we say to play hard and with enthusiasm, but keep your poise. As a good athlete you need to be able to keep your poise in situations like that.”
What does the Jug Game mean to you?
“To me it’s the accumulation of everything that sports is about. Community, preparation, teamwork all of those things. That’s one of the great things about high school sports, that you do have those rivalry games where it takes all the community and the preparation, and ties it all up nice and neat into a rivalry week.”
How prepared is this team to make a playoff run?
“I think it’s tough to tell because I think this is one of the toughest schedules we’ve ever had here and you knock on wood that you stay healthy. Injuries happen in every sport, but with football being such a physical sport you hope injuries don’t play too much into your results. If we stay healthy our kids are going to fight and be competitive. We’ve also got leaders who have played in some pretty big games. So you’d think we’re set to make a pretty big playoff run, if we stay healthy.”
Is there anything you haven’t seen from this team that you would like to?
“This isn’t as much for this team but with every team you coach, you wait for the younger kids to click. Making the step from J.V. to varsity is tough. I mean the pace and intensity of the practices is go go go and we try to keep everyone on task. So sometimes it takes those JV kids a little while to figure out what’s going on. So if there’s something I’m looking for out of this team, it’s for those younger kids to be more quickly adapted to playing varsity football so we are deeper as a team. That way when those inevitable injuries happen, then we’ll have people to fill in.”
Tell me what you see in Joe Girard as a Quarterback?
“Everyone knows what a good athlete Joe is, it’s very well documented with his basketball. This year without question, he’s been a better leader during practice. When we’re wallowing a little bit and guys are feeling sorry for themselves, he’s the first guy to say, ‘Let’s go guys! Pick it up!’ So it’s that leadership that I’ve seen the most out of him.”
And besides Joe, who do you think is the biggest piece of this team?
“We’ve got Kyle Vachon, a three way starter and captain for us. He’s the anchor of our offensive line and our best defensive player. He’s one of our main dudes because he’s a major part of everything we do here.”
Glens Falls will play Hudson Falls this Saturday afternoon at Glens Falls high school.