Manual/Male rivalry continues even with KHSAA district changes


Manual’s varsity football team runs to the end zone after winning 7-0 against Central in 2019. Photo by Pieper Mallett.

Liv Bohler and Mandala Gupta VerWiebe

Don’t worry, our long lasting rivalry isn’t coming to an end. 

On November 1, Manual and Male will be continuing their historical football rivalry game even though the two teams do not fall into the same district this year.

“KHSAA realigns football districts about every four years and with the last realignment that takes effect this season, Male is no longer in our district,” David Zuberer, Manual’s athletic director, said. 

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Several years ago, Male wasn’t in Manual’s district, so both of the athletic administrations set up the teams to go head to head as the last game of the season.

“In the 80’s and before that game was actually played on Thanksgiving Day. Then it moved to the last district game, which is played the second to last week. Now that they’re not in our district we’re going to play them the last game of the season to try to honor that tradition,” Zuberer said.

Due to the creation of the game, it is now the week before playoffs and Zuberer is concerned about the emotional toll on the players as well as the spirit of the students.

“My usual concern is that, now with it being the last week of the season, the following week we’re gonna start playoffs, and will we have a letdown? Most people here now don’t remember this. I’ve been here long enough to remember that we would play Male at a very emotional, high-stakes, charged up game and then turn around next week to play a playoff game and just be flat. Our student body and fans are just less engaged, leading us to almost lose,” Zuberer said.  

In the Central .vs. Manual game earlier this year, Manual came out winning 1-0. Photo by Pieper Mallett.

Zuberer may be nervous about the energy of the team, but Mark Dawson (12, HSU), a football player, feels that the team shouldn’t worry.

“No matter how the Male-Manual game goes we should be able to have a quick change of focus and prepare ourselves for the first round of playoffs,” Dawson said, “We just have to put whatever happens during the Male game in the rear view mirror and focus on the game of that week.”

Even though the game isn’t within the district, spirit leader Justin Hardy (12, HSU) feels like the game is just as important. 

“I don’t think there’s any less significance at all with playing Male out of our district. It’s still the oldest rivalry in the state and still the only game that brings our alumni, staff, parents and students together, I don’t think it will make a difference to anyone in either school that it isn’t an ‘as important game’ for playoffs because it will never lose importance,” Hardy said.

The spirit section shouts and cheers at the Manual .vs. Central game earlier this year. Photo by Pieper Mallett

Dawson agrees with Hardy from the football players’ perspective.

“I don’t think the game being a non district game has any significance to hinder the atmosphere. It is such a historic and competitive rivalry that it shouldn’t have any effect,” Dawson said.

As far as keeping the student sections spirits up, the Manual spirit leaders have it covered.

“We have a few tricks up our sleeve to keep the crowd entertained. We’re trying to keep as many traditions going as we can and even start new ones to make the games more exciting and fun for all the students,” Hardy said.

No matter how well the team plays or how hard the spirit leaders work, the most important part is that students, staff and alumni show up to the game.

The Male v. Manual game this year will keep the historical legacy alive, as well as entertain the rivalry between Manual and Male students and faculty, as both sides fight for the barrel.