Greenville football ready for opener against longtime rival

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 10:12 am on Friday, August 24, 2012

Greenville quarterback Curtis Heppe delivers a throw during practice a couple of weeks ago. The senior begins his second year as starting quarterback tonight.

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Yellow Jackets and the Belding Redskins have been playing football against each other for more than 100 years.

This year presents a couple of significant changes in the rivalry, one of the best in the state.

The biggest change would be the playing location for the Yellow Jackets. No longer do they play at Black Field, but they now reside at Legacy Field.

Legacy Field is the brand new facility that had its first open house on Monday and hosted its first football game on Wednesday — the Greenville freshman team defeated the Cadillac Vikings 38-6.

Crowds for the annual rivalry are typically the biggest of the season, minus home playoff games. The crowd for this opener is expected to be one of the largest in years.

Greenville coach Dave Moore will be coaching his 10th Greenville/Belding game and expects tonight’s game to be just as exciting as the first one.

“Could it really be 10 years ago? That first Belding game was so exciting,” he said. “I think we will have this kind of excitement this year. New stadium for us, new coach for them, it just brings a lot of excitement and I think we will have a packed house. It will be fun.”

The other significant change, as Moore said, is the new Belding coach. Rockford native Joe Schwander has taken over the Redskins program and will be in charge of his first varsity game tonight.

For the Yellow Jackets, facing a new coach presents some extra challenges as the prepped for the game the past week.

“It is tough. It makes the preparation so much harder,” Moore said. “Because you have to prepare for all of these things that may or may not occur. When you know a team you know what they will do. How do you prepare for the unknown?”

Last year at Rudness Field in Belding, the Yellow Jackets jumped out to a large lead and led by 21 points. The Redskins made an outstanding comeback to force overtime, before the Yellow Jackets won 46-40.

Moore has not forgotten that and will not let his team forget either.

“We made a few mistakes in that game, but give Belding credit, they played hard last year,” he said. “It was a great game.”

The Yellow Jackets will be looking for their fifth straight win against Belding. Under Moore, the Yellow Jackets are 8-1 against the Redskins. Prior to that stretch, the Redskins won 12 of 14 games.

Moore said his team is ready and expects the Redskins to be ready, as well. After three weeks of practice and anticipation the Yellow Jackets are ready to play.

“Coming out of that tunnel the first time, with that big crowd, is going to be unbelievable,” Moore said.