Old Rivals Meet Again


Jaxon Owens , Editor-in-Chief

Tomorrow age old rivals will reunite to clash on the Carl Sparks Stadium field. The Sumner Spartans rejoins PHS in the 4A division of the South Puget Sound League (SPSL). After being sent down to 3A after the 2004 school year.

But now, the Spartans are back and ranked high in the State football rankings, cracking the top five. Tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Carl Sparks Stadium the Vikings will try to upset the Spartans on their return to the 4A level.

Before Sumner got moved to a separate division in 1961, the rivalry between the Sumner Spartans and the Puyallup Vikings matched no rivalry in the area. One game in 1953 between the two became the first high school game to be televised outside Seattle.

Each year, starting in 1920, the Vikings and Spartans would play on Thanksgiving. While the Vikings dominated the series over the years, winning 30 of the games during that span.

“Traditional rivalry will again reign Thanksgiving Day when the Puyallup Vikings and the Sumner Spartans clash in the annual Thanksgiving Day game,” said the November issue of the Hi-Life from 1952.

Jim Clifton has been a big part of PHS, attending as a student, teaching for a number of years and is the most winningest boys’ basketball coach in school history.

“I attended PHS in the late 1950s and graduated in the class of 1960. I also taught at PHS for 29 years. The family tradition continued as my oldest son graduated from PHS in the class of 1983, with my other son graduating in 1993,” Clifton said.

Mike Egan is a graduate of PHS from the class of 1985 and found ways to stay involved with PHS.

“I graduated from PHS in 1985. I have always tried to stay involved with the school. I was student body president when I was there. My family has always been down there. My brother Chris [Egan] also went to PHS. I have not missed an alumni assembly since I graduated, I try to help coordinate our class involvement of course, I have helped with our reunions and also have helped with the holiday wishes program as well. I try to always get back and help when I can, I have come back and talked to leadership classes, I try and connect back and always help where I can,” Egan said.

Mike Huard was the football coach at PHS during most of the 1980s and ‘90s, he played the Sumner Spartans many times in his coaching career.

“I have been a part of the PHS for a long time. I taught at Puyallup from 1981-2010. I was the head football coach for a great portion of that time. I was the coach from when I first arrived at PHS, in 1981 and coached through 1997. The rivalry was big between Sumner and PHS when I was at PHS. It was a rivalry with two close communities with strong ties to each other. There are many friends and family connections that play a role,” Huard said.

Current Vice-Principal of Sumner High School and PHS graduate from the class of 1991, Brandon Bakke offered his views on the Sumner Puyallup rivalry.

“When I got to Sumner in 2005, to be Vice-Principal I was amazed at how many people brought up Sumner’s win over PHS all the way back in 1995 when Brock Huard was quarterback, people knew I was a proud PHS graduate and they wanted to make sure I remembered that game. It was then I realized the rivalry was real for so many generations of people. I am glad we are getting to kick start it again,” Bakke said.

Huard shares his favorite sports memory from PHS, the time he led PHS to a state title.

“My favorite memory from my time at PHS was when we won the state championship in 1987. We beat the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups to win the state title,” Huard said.

Egan was the student body president and went out of his way to make sure the fun rained on his fellow students.

“I wrestled and played tennis while I was in high school but let me tell you my favorite memory was actually as student body president getting ready for those big games. We took pep rallies to a whole new level back when I was in school. I will never forget when I was president and we were going to play Rogers. I drove into the gym, on a motorcycle, dressed as Prince and I had the entire school singing Purple Rain. It was quite a scene to be able to drive a motorcycle into the gym and Rogers on the other side as we got ready for the game,” Egan said.

Even Though Sumner rarely won, it was always a match to remember, in the November issue of 1926 of the Hi-Life, now the Viking Vanguard, it is explained the severity in which each side wanted to win.

“Puyallup and Sumner are traditional foes and the Vikings would rather take a game from the Spartans than any other team in the conference,” said the November issue of the Hi-Life from 1926 .

Huard sees this rivalry renewal as a chance to relive old memories.

“We ‘old timers’ cherish those memories of games from this old rivalry. We last played Sumner in 1995. We lost by one, on a two-point-conversion attempt, where the pass was dropped in the end zone. We tied for the league title that year, we usually beat Sumner,” Huard said.

Clifton got the chance to play in one of the Thanksgiving Day games when he was in high school.

“When Puyallup and Sumner played on Thanksgiving, the games were always played in the morning, at 11 a.m., I was lucky enough to play in two Thanksgiving Day games, in 1958 and 1959. At those games, the stands were always full and people would be standing all around the field on the track,” Clifton said.

When Egan played, Sumner was not in the same division as PHS which he did not like.

“When I was in high school, Sumner was not in our division, and to the point, I think that it was something that we really missed as part of our season. It was one of those things that it felt like you should play them, I mean they are your neighbor. It should be a major rivalry for you, you think of some of the major rivals for the Seattle Sounders, their big rival is Portland and Vancouver, another great example is Boston [Red Sox] and New York [Yankees]. The rivalry with Sumner, it is such a natural rivalry for us. Sumner and Puyallup are two very unique communities but also very similar communities. They are both old farm towns that have grown up a bit,” Egan said.

It was not just the football field that created high tension between the Vikings and Spartans, basketball was a big event as well.

“Once again the a horde of Spartans crossed the river and invaded the Viking realm only to feel the sting of crushing defeat by the Viking basketeers on Friday Evening, February 12, 1929,” said the February issue from 1926 of the Hi-Life.

Egan sees Sumner back in Puyallup’s division as a great thing, because of what will be added to the traditions of the past.

“The fact that we have been playing for so long is why it is such a good rivalry, Sumner has always been a very passionate school and PHS has always been very strong in spirit. I think the spirit is only going to grow as we build this rivalry up. That is why I think it is a great thing that they are back, there are going to be old traditions rekindled and all the new traditions that will be added be because of what we are able to do now. We will no longer have to go up the hill for our rivalry games, we now can just float down the river,” Egan said.

In all of Clifton’s time at PHS it is hard to narrow down his favorite sports memories.

“There are several. My first touchdown pass to Dick Disney against Olympia my sophomore year.  Playing in the All-State baseball game at the old Seattle Sicks Stadium, throwing a no-hitter in the district game in Cheney Stadium. Winning the 1971 state basketball championship when I was the assistant coach.  Beating Rogers at home in basketball down seven with 16 seconds left in the game. Most of all becoming the basketball coach with the most career wins at PHS,” Clifton said.

Egan thinks that this rivalry will not be good just for the current group at PHS but for the vast network of alumni as well.

“I think this rivalry is great, not just for the current students and faculty but all those alumni that played on those teams and watched those games. You will draw alumni coming from the 1950s and ‘60s and perhaps even earlier than that if you go to some of those alumni assemblies and you will find people from the 1930s still coming to those assemblies. I think it is definitely going to rekindle a lot of memories,” Egan said.

Be there are tomorrow at 7 p.m. as PHS’ oldest rival returns to Carl Sparks Stadium.