Under the Friday night lights at Western Alamance High School’s football stadium, the historic rivalry between Western Alamance and Eastern Alamance, dating back to 1965, lived up to the moment as the game came down to the final few minutes. Down by six with a chance to win the game, Western Alamance failed to convert on a fourth down. Eastern Alamance ran out the clock to win the Great American Rivalry Series game, 22-16.

Playing in this rivalry is a big deal for the area, according to Western Alamance sophomore James Newton, who said it felt even better to play such a large part in front of the large crowd.

“It feels good, the crowd, everyone cheering,” Newton said. “You got Eastern Alamance and Western Alamance cheering us on.”

Newton made play after play for Western Alamance, starting the game off with a pick six on Eastern’s first offensive play. Being able to contribute even with the loss, Newton said he gained confidence with the plays he made.

“It’s a great feeling, once you get that first boom, you’re just ready to go,” Newton said.

Being one of the younger players on the team does not hold Newton back from being a leader as he cheers his teammates on. Newton said the way he helps the team is by being a leader whether or not the team is playing well. 

“Just being a leader, cheering everybody up, helping everyone when they’re down and cheering everyone when they are doing good,” he said.

Going forward, Newton said he believes his team can turn right around after the close game.

“Just keep on fighting, don’t give up,” Newton said.

The game’s MVP, Eastern Alamance junior quarterback Jason Ball, was able to look past the start of the game and lead his team to the victory. Ball said the team came out with more confidence than they should have for a rivalry game.

“It feels great because the first quarter had a bad start, pick six, and then I fought back, and I feel like the team played very well in the second half,” Ball said. “We came out cocky. We thought we were the better team, but we shouldn’t have done that in a rivalry game because they came out to play.”

Eastern Alamance takes on another close to home rival next week in Walter M. Williams, whose head coach Patrick Stokes is the former defensive coordinator at Eastern Alamance. Williams defeated Orange 70-0 tonight and is 2-0 in conference play.