Cheers, crowds, students, passion, and all the things that can be seen at a game when Coe-Brown and Oyster River are playing.
For as long as anyone can remember, Oyster River High School and Coe-Brown Northwood Academy have honored the tradition of what is referred to as “The Route Four Rivalry.” Over the years, this rivalry has been taken out on the field, but more recently, off, as well.
In 1985, former boys basketball coach, now gym teacher, Don Maynard, started working at Oyster River. While Maynard was not sure exactly what fueled the rivalry, he says “initially, Somersworth, Saint Thomas, Coe-Brown, [and] Sanborn were all part of [Division I], and we played them every year. Ten or twelve years ago, Somersworth and Saint Thomas both dropped down a division, so we don’t play them anymore. We have always played Coe-Brown. They are our closest rival.”
Maynard also talks about the bragging rights that are held with this rivalry. Because the Barrington School District only goes up to the middle school, the kids in Barrington are sent to either Coe-Brown, Oyster River, or Dover for high school. “I don’t care what sport you play, you see people in the summer and if you win [a rivalry game], you walk a little taller.” said Maynard.
When Maynard started coaching for the basketball team, the intensity and the want for a win was seen in both teams, but always in a seemingly controlled manner. “[The rivalry] was a big deal. The very last game that I coached at Coe-Brown, they had to turn people away from their gym. There were people standing everywhere…There were three police cars on Route Four because there was so much traffic.”
When it comes to kids and their sports parents always liked to be involved, and back in the 80’s Maynard talks about the fun bragging rights parents had who knew each other from the rivaling schools. Maynard explains “there’s a lot of adults that have friends whose kids went to Coe-Brown…I think the parents like to brag a little bit too.”
Taking the rivalry into the 2000’s, the passion to win was still clearly seen by the current girls basketball coach Nicole Casimiro, who used to play basketball for Oyster River. When Casimiro first started playing basketball in high school, the rivalry was still thriving. “It was huge. We used to have a very tiny gym and at the Coe-Brown games, everything was filled.”
While Casimiro saw basketball have a very intense rivalry with Coe-Brown, she does not discount the other sports that honored this rivalry.“Every time that a Coe-Brown game happened, regardless of what sport it was, there was a huge turn out.” Casimiro explains.
Casimiro also comments on the sportsmanship seen from both teams. “Basketball gets intense in general, but nothing was ever over the top.It was never to a place where I was like, ‘oh this is now violent.’ It was always just a good, competitive environment.”
In 2007, former girls soccer coach Cyd Scarano was not made aware of the rivalry we have with Coe-Brown. She talks about the major event that happened with Coe-Brown that made her recognize the rivalry we shared with them. “It was a tie game in overtime. Our Oyster River girls were scrambling and working very hard, and Coe-Brown was as well. That was when I first started realizing, these two teams really like to take it to each other. There’s more going on here than what meets the eye.” Scarano continues on, saying, “it became really apparent that on the Oyster River side, we could not lose to Coe-Brown. One of our seniors scored in overtime and she was actually a defender, but she shot from a distance and she scored the goal. She looked at the bench and she said, ‘I’ll be damned if I was gonna let Coe-Brown beat us.’”
Bringing the rivalry into 2016 to 2021, Andy Carlson (‘22) talks about his experience playing both boys ice hockey and baseball and how the rivalry is taken out on the ice. “My freshman year, our captain Max Carpenter got illegally hit into the boards and a junior at the time, Declan Daubney got in a fight.”
Carlson continues on to say in his life and his entire hockey career, he has only ever been in two fights, both against Coe-Brown. “One was this past weekend (1/30), and one was my freshman year. Someone got into a fight with someone else on the other team and everyone had to get involved. That’s when I was like dang, these two teams really hate each other.”
Even if it hasn’t been a fight, Carlson still has seen other anger arise at his games against Coe-Brown. “My sophomore year, there was a kid on the Coe-Brown team who got a penalty for illegally hitting Eric Donovan and then when [Eric] talked back about how [the other player] was a hot head, he took his stick and threw it at him.” This goes to show the aggressiveness and how physical these rivals will get.
While most of the time the rivalry is taken out on the field, recently it was taken out on social media. In the past year, many sports teams not only from Oyster River, but also the surrounding schools have created Instagram accounts to promote games. Read Jen Newick’s Scroll Through Sports to hear more on the team Instagrams. However, social media also caused some teams to take it too far, specifically girls soccer.
During the girls soccer season, the rivalry games with Coe-Brown were taken very seriously and both teams came with the drive to win. However, after Coe-Brown lost, the rivalry was taken to social media. Girls soccer captain Charlotte Cousins (‘22) tells the story, saying, “we were building up anticipation for the next time we were going to play [Coe-Brown]. We were supposed to have a home game against them the following weekend. We posted on Instagram the day before saying, ‘come to the game, we’re gonna finish this, e.t.c.’”
Cousins continues on about the environment of the game. “Once the game happened, from the get go it was just a lot of physicality, a lot of pushing, a lot of name calling…I think because we scored so early, they became very angry because they were expecting to come back at us a little bit…The whole game was just a lot of pushing and grabbing.Following the game, we beat them 2-0 which was awesome, but they did not take the loss so well.”
“After the win, we immediately posted on Instagram that we won and out of nowhere a little later on, we got notifications that Coe-Brown girls were commenting on our post. Specifically[they were] talking about an incident during the game, where a player on their team injured a girl on our team.” Cousins could not go into further detail, but said the incident was handled in a proper and professional way from both schools.
During this season as well, the boys soccer team got a piece of the rivalry. Nathan Mendoza (‘22) is a boys soccer player from Barrington, meaning when on the field against our rivals, he knows some of them as his former teammates and classmates. “I have a lot of friends that go to Coe-Brown. I’ve known a lot of them throughout my childhood, going as far back as Pre-K and I’ve made special bonds with them through club soccer and school. But when we’re on the field I’m part of Oyster River and they’re part of Coe-Brown.”
Mendoza also talks about what winning a rivalry game means to his team, as well as others, saying, “beating Coe-Brown is like a milestone for each athletic team because it carries on the traditions from other past players, so you always just want to go out there and give it your all.”
As Oyster River wraps up their winter athletic season and begins into spring, there is an expectation to have a win against Coe-Brown. When thinking of the rivalry and the games, whether playing or watching, it’s important to remember a quote from Mendoza, which said, “both Coe-Brown and Oyster River have produced such talent… The rivalry is always growing. It’s always something new. While sometimes it can get out of hand, it’s always friendly in the end, no bad blood between anyone.”
Artwork by Gaby Lowery