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Rivalry Week: Greene County Cup

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Coxsackie-Athens’ Lucas Bruce and Cairo-Durham’s Ryan Gibson battle for the ball during a game during the 2017 soccer season.
March 1, 2018 12:00 am

Editor's Note: This is the fourth installment of the Rivalry Week series looking at some of the best high school match-ups in the area.

The Greene County Cup, established in 2009, showcases Greene County’s lone football programs and was the upstart of a sports rivalry between two schools — one occupying the the Hudson river and the other being the entrance to the mountains.

Two schools that both don the blue and white when they step onto the pitch, diamond, gridiron or court, Cairo-Durham and Coxsackie-Athens have jousted for Greene County supremacy in multiple sports.

What makes a rivalry compelling are the moments that last forever. The stunning upset to ruin a potential conference championship, a buzzer-beater to pull of an upset victory, or a Cup, which signifies the competitive nature the schools have when they do battle.

With the creation of the Greene County Cup came the idea that the new rivalry game would bring out a bragging rights atmosphere between the neighboring schools.

Cairo-Durham cemented its legacy on Oct. 17, 2009.

“We are the only schools in Green County that have football, that is how the football cup came about,” said Terry Nash, Coxsackie-Athens’ athletic director.

Round Top Knit and Screening donated the trophy and t-shirts were made to commemorate the inaugural game, which came down to the wire.

Played at Angelo Canna Town Park coach Roy Deyo and quarterback Kyle Humphrey led the Indians. Coach Dom DeMaria and quarterback Chrise Hoose headed up the Mustangs side.

The Indians and Mustangs entered the game at 1-5, but the records were meaningless. There were no playoff spots on the line, just bragging rights and the opportunity to be the first Greene County Cup champion.

In the end, Hoose willed his team to the victory.

Tied at 20-20 with three minutes to play, Hoose led a miraculous march in which he kept the drive alive with two third-down runs before finding Casey Palson for the 5-yard touchdown to give Cairo-Durham a 26-20 lead.

The Mustangs were unable to run the clock out fully after recovering a squib kick, granting Coxsackie-Athens one final shot. With 51 ticks left, Humphrey hooked up with Jake Ferencz for a 35-yard pass, setting up the Indians on the Cairo-Durham 20-yard line. However, after failing to get into the end zone on first and second down, Humphrey needed to toss a touchdown on third down before the clock expired. The Hail Mary pass went over the end zone, crowning Cairo-Durham the inaugural Greene County Cup champions.

Hoose was the MVP of the game. Not only did he lead the game-winning drive, but he was 9-for-13 for 209 yards with two scores. He also rushed seven times for 78 yards and one TD.

Unfortunately for Cairo-Durham, it was the last time they’d hoist the trophy.

With a memorable ending in year one of the Greene County Cup, year two proved to be just as remarkable.

Played on Oct. 30, 2010, both team’s entered the contest with losing records. Coxsackie-Athens was 2-6 and Cairo-Durham was 1-7. Again, it didn’t matter.

The game appeared to be a blowout in the first half, with Coxsackie-Athens leading 36-8. Humphrey remained on the team and was the game-changer throughout. He had a 38-yard pick-six to go along with two passing touchdowns.

However, the Mustangs came out of the half and scored with three straight touchdowns. Quarterback Kevin Hunt tossed 41 and 53-yard touchdown passes to Andrew Dreste and a nine-yard touchdown to Devin Pope.

Despite Hunt’s efforts, Humphrey was too much for Cairo’s defense, tossing a 69-yard touchdown and adding a 7-yard TD run to lift Coxsackie-Athens to a 48-34 victory.

After the game, Cairo-Durham athletic director Greg Hagan presented Coxsackie-Athens and coach Roy Deyo with the Greene County Cup, and Deyo gathered his team at the 50-yard line and announced his retirement after a 26-year coaching career.

The game was memorable not only for Coxsackie-Athens capturing their first Cup win, or Deyo’s retirement, but for the statistics put up by the quarterbacks and receivers.

Hunt’s 18 completions, 360 yards and five passing touchdowns are still Greene County Cup records. Along with Hunt’s record-setting day through the air, Dreste’s four receiving touchdowns and 210 receiving yards are still records.

Humphrey also had a solid game going 12-for-18 for 300 yards and three scores.

In 2011, the plug was pulled on the game after Cairo-Durham could not field a varsity team.

In the four Greene County Cups played since 2011, Coxsackie-Athens is 4-0, has outscored Cairo-Durham 189-14, and has defeated the Mustangs by an average score of 43 points.

As the 10-year anniversary of the Greene County Cup slowly approaches, new stars have entered the fray and new coaches patrol the sidelines with the hopes of hosting the Cup in their respective trophy case.

On the diamond, there’s no Cup awarded to the winner of the season series, just bragging rights and a higher finish in the Patroon standings.

Though the competitiveness between the two schools has taken a dip over the last two seasons, one thing is for certain, when former Cairo-Durham skipper Tom Karnes was in-charge, it was a fierce, competitive rivalry year-in and year-out.

“When I started, we were in the CHVL, we moved to the Schoharie Valley League around 1992 until about 2001 when we joined the Patroon Conference. When I look back, I think the rivalry was more intense in the ’80s and early ’90s,” Karnes said. “Then later on it heated up again. I think as the years went on and more summer leagues started, many of the kids knew each other outside school ball and became more friendly. That is not to say that either team has lost its fierce competitive nature.”

The competitive nature is something Karnes has not forgotten when it comes to facing the Indians.

Coxsackie-Athens and Cairo-Durham met in April 2007 for a double-header during spring vacation. The Mustangs were reeling, coming off back-to-back losses against Chatham, and needed to rebound against the Indians.

Heading into the fourth, Cairo-Durham led 2-1 before Coxsackie-Athens scored seven runs in the inning to take an 8-2 lead.

Down six heading into the top of the seventh, the Mustangs scored seven runs of their own in the inning to take a 9-8 lead and they held on to win the first game of the double-header.

“We dropped the nightcap, but it was an exciting day,” Karnes said. “Our team always knew Coxsackie-Athens was a high-quality team with good coaching.”

However, no game was bigger than the Mustangs and Indians clash on June 7, 2011.

“I can remember that day clearly and sometimes as a coach, you know your team might not be mentally ready,” Karnes said.

Cairo-Durham entered the game with a chance to capture the Patroon Conference title outright, but a loss would force a tie with Chatham and they’d share the title.

Coxsackie-Athens entered the game two weeks removed from playing a live game.

“What made this game unique is that it had to be played after sectionals because of bad weather that canceled it at the end of the regular season,” said Coxsackie-Athens coach Curt Wilkinson. “We had just lost a tough game to Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons in the first round and the players were disappointed with how our season ended.”

Cairo-Durham and Coxsackie-Athens were supposed to meet in the final two games of the regular season, however, they were rained out. One game was rescheduled and played prior to the start of sectionals and C-A stunned first-place C-D 9-2. The Indians were led by Brian McDonald who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Jack Whiting, who hit a two-run home run.

“Our big goal was to get to Joe Bruno and the guys were psyched, then we had the make-up game at Coxsackie-Athens on June 7. No slight to Coxsackie-Athens, but our guys knew we had a share of the Patroon crown and with all the sectional games, I think they had nothing left in the tank,” Karnes explained.

Played on June 7, the Indians defended their home field, routing Cairo-Durham 10-2, forcing the Mustangs to end the season in a tie for first-place with the Panthers.

Coxsackie-Athens had six players record two hits with Steven Deluca leading the way going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.

“With everyone well rested from both teams, our boys responded by showing their class, determination and competitiveness by not rolling over and making sure Cairo-Durham wasn’t going to win the Conference outright on our home field,” Wilkinson said.

However, for the Coxsackie-Athens skipper, he’s had the upper-hand in this rivalry since the start of his tenure. Wilkinson is 19-7 against the Mustangs.

As for Karnes, who is nearly four years removed from coaching at Cairo-Durham, the memory of that loss still haunts him.

“I can guess we played each other probably about 50 times; many, many great games. There is one thing that stands out and it’s not about the wins or losses,” Karnes said. “It was our first meeting with C-A in 2006 after the tragic death of one of their players, Ian Rivenburgh, over the summer. Our team wanted to honor Ian, so the team decided to plant a tree at our field dedicated to him. Prior to the game, teams, coaches and Ian’s parents gathered around the tree for a moment of silence.

“It was a moving experience for all there. The tree still stands there today.”

In 2012, Cairo-Durham and Coxsackie-Athens attempted to expand upon the Greene County Cup. A rivalry game not just played on the gridiron, but also the pitch.

On Oct. 12, 2012, the Mustangs and Indians competed in the first and only Greene County Cup soccer game, which ended in a 1-0 victory in favor of Cairo-Durham.

The idea never took off.

Wilkinson took over the program in 2004 and Cairo-Durham owned Coxsackie-Athens from 2004-07 with six straight wins before the Indians turned the corner in 2008.

“We tied both games that year and I feel the message of Coxsackie-Athens being a ‘win’ on the schedule was over,” Wilkinson said.

Since 2009, the win-loss record between Coxsackie-Athens and Cairo-Durham has been 9-8 in favor of the Indians, however, since 2012 it’s been 7-4 in favor of the Indians.

“In 2013, to add a little more fuel to the rivalry, we won the final game of the season at Cairo-Durham to win the Patroon Conference Championship,” Wilkinson stated. “All contests between the two teams over the years have been competitive and a little chippy. We look forward to the competition every year with Cairo-Durham.”