In the great tradition of high school sports, the Hobart Brickies host the Marion Giants on Friday night for the Class 4A football semi-state championship.
Both schools have a rich tradition of excellence in football, with the Brickies having made it to the state finals 11 times, bringing home four championships. The Giants have attended the finals twice and are looking for an opportunity to bring home their first state championship.
Another great rivalry will also be on display on the field Friday night in Hobart, but barely recognizable. In the spirit of cooperation and professionalism representing the highest traditions of the military, a joint color guard composed of JROTC cadets from both schools will proudly stand in unity of purpose as they present honors to our nation and flag.
And while Friday night is the first time these two schools will face each other on the gridiron, the JROTC programs are no strangers to each other. For a decade now, the cadets from both schools have battled it out on the competition field. Each school seeks to outperform the other. The greatest reflection of their competitive spirit is evident by the fierce but friendly rivalry amongst their Raider teams.
Both the Brickies and the Giants have earned the Indiana State Raider Championship title, in 2019 and 2017, respectively. Both also have won the National Raider Championship title in the small school category in the past two years.
But there is more than just competition.
“Some things transcend football, pandemics, and rivalries,” said retired Lt. Col. Scott Buhmann, the Senior Army Instructor for Hobart’s JROTC program, who came up with the idea of a joint color guard. “Bringing Marion’s and Hobart’s color guards together not only displays a much-needed sense of unity, but provides an example of what can be done when we collectively work together.”
With three color guard members representing each school, the cadets fully understand their purpose on Friday night.
“With a trip to the state championship on the line, this game is an important event for both schools,” Cadet Maj. Alex Nolan, a Hobart senior, said. “Our JROTC programs can rise above our rivalry and work as a team to provide an opening ceremony befitting such a game.”
In addition to Nolan, the other two members of the color guard from Hobart are cadets Lt. Col. Samantha Paterson and Maj. Claire Duca, both seniors. Completing the team from Marion are cadets Lt. Col Kylee O’Neil and 2nd Lt. Kayleina O’Donnell, both seniors, and Sgt. Stephany Miksch, a sophomore.
The color guard is being drilled to perfection for Friday night’s ceremony under the watchful eye of retired 1st Sgt. Leo Marshall, the Army Instructor for Hobart.
“Together, we each are demonstrating our school pride,” O’Neil said. “And together, we honor this game and our country.”
But the intense rivalry will resume in February when O’Neil and Miksch from Marion, and Paterson and Nolan from Hobart, along with their teammates, will face each other again at the Raider National Championship in Molena, Ga. Hobart seeks to defend their national title, while Marion seeks to reclaim it.
“Whenever our two JROTC teams meet, it is commonly understood that a battle royal will ensue,” said retired Lt. Col. David Farlow, the Senior Army Instructor for Marion’s JROTC program. “And yet this Friday night, our cadets will set aside their highly competitive nature and stand shoulder to shoulder as comrades bound by a great purpose, as together they present the national colors. I am sure there is a lesson in there for us all.”
And thus is the great tradition of high school athletics and the Junior ROTC programs.