By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Rivalries are the lifeblood of college football. Some though are more recognizable than others, but that doesn’t make them any less intriguing, and in some instances, the lesser-known rivalries have a more interesting background.
Everybody knows about the Oklahoma-Texas Red River Rivalry, just as most fans recognize Michigan-Ohio State or Army-Navy as being two of the more storied rivalry contests. Over the past decade, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, thanks to the Pokes recent upturn in football fortunes (never mind SI), has become one of the better clashes. It’s a series many of our area and local players have participated in.
Last week fans lamented the lack of marquee collegiate matchups, but a rivalry was being settled in the great northern part of the U.S. (Am I showing my Yankee heritage by saying that?) that even got some prime coverage on ESPN Game Day in a game played for what Yahoo! Sports columnist Graham Watson called “the ugliest trophy in college football.”
Every year, Division III Minnesota schools St. Olaf College and Concordia-Moorhead College battle it out for the Traveling Troll Trophy, truly one of the more “unique” trophies around.
But wait, you must be wondering, why should anybody in Enid care about what a couple of tiny schools in Minnesota play for in a rivalry game most have never heard about? Take it easy. There is an Enid connection.
More on that in a moment. But first, the trophy.
The two schools have been playing for the trophy, aptly described by Watson as “creepy” and “hairy,” since 1974. The troll, who seems to be holding a staff in one hand and a hatchet in the other, comes from the mountains of Lillehammer in Norway, and of course, is made of Norwegian wood. Since both schools have Norwegian heritage, it seemed like a natural and has been part of the rivalry’s fabric ever since. And yes, it’s pretty ugly, in a cool way.
Now, the Enid part.
Last season at this time, Chance Pryor was quarterbacking the Plainsmen and one of his targets was Johnny Lawrence, the older brother of current EHS quarterback Frederick Lawrence. Pryor is eighth all-time at EHS in completions and yards in a season and third in completion percentage.
Pryor didn’t get any major college looks, but a Division III school in Minnesota, which it turns out, has a pretty strong history of recruiting in Oklahoma, lured both Pryor and Lawrence away from the plains to the snowy north to play football at St. Olaf College.
St. Olaf is located in Northfield, Minn., which has a pretty strong link to Western heritage as it was the site of Jesse James’ last and ill-fated bank robbery that led to the demise of the James gang.
The Oles didn’t wrestle the Troll away from Concordia in their game last week, losing 33-29 in a game befitting a rivalry that went down to the wire.
Pryor has been getting some playing time as St. Olaf’s “change of pace” quarterback, including busting off a 26-yard run in last week’s rivalry game, and Lawrence is working his way onto the field on special teams, so there is a good chance Enid will be making an impact in the near future on the trollish history of this heretofore little-known rivalry outside of the snow belt.
Not everyone can play in the Red River Rivalry or suit up for an OU-OSU game, but even fewer can say they battled it out to bring home the troll.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.