Ethan Kameshige

Ontario’s Ethan Kameshige (11) escapes a Vale tackle during the Ontario vs. Vale matchup on Sept. 15, 2017, the most recent iteration of the Ontario/Vale rivalry game. The Tigers and the Vikings will meet tonight after missing last season’s matchup.

VALE — While it may be Friday the 13th, football fans in the valley are far from unlucky this year as 2019 brings the return of the classic Ontario and Vale rivalry in football.

The Tigers and the Vikings have been doing battle since 1943, making their rivalry one of the oldest in the Treasure Valley. Vale leads Ontario in the all-time series 37-27 with five games ending in a tie.

The 2018 season was the first time Ontario and Vale didn’t lock horns on the gridiron since 1991. In the 75 years of play between the two teams, the game has been missed only six times.

Few people in the area have memories of the Vale/Ontario rivalry the way Vale Athletic Director Tom Snook does. Snook has been in his position with the high school for 36 years as both an administrator and a coach.

“The rivalry was at its biggest when we were in the same league,” Snook said. “But now, it still means a lot to the communities. But the rivalry has definitely dwindled a little bit since then.”

Snook said he knows the rivalry between the two teams is something that a lot of the older fans still look forward to every year.

“That’s how they grew up,” Snook said. “It’s a huge game for the older guys. It’s really a good rivalry.”

While the game doesn’t matter to either Ontario or Vale in terms of league standings, Vale coach Jeff Aldred said the geographical rivalry is still very much there.

“The kids still listen to their dads and grandpas and hear about the rivalry,” Aldred said.

Aldred, who graduated from Vale High School in 1997 said he has fond memories of playing in the Ontario game and it was one of their biggest games of the year every season.

“It was a really big deal when I was in high school,” Aldred said. “A lot of us, we associate with those guys. Or you’re friends with those guys and we all look at it as a rivalry. And Vale’s always been the smaller school so we’ve always played it with a chip on our shoulder. You want to win against Ontario.”

Friday will be Ontario coach Tony Cade’s first game against Vale and he said he’s excited to get to be a part of the historic feud between the two towns.

“We need to do this every year,” Cade said. “This game needs to be established again. It means a lot to the team and to the community to have games like this. The guys have extra energy at practice with games like this.”

And after a gritty first week performance against Mazama (who is currently the No. 1 ranked team in 4A) Cade said the Tigers are itching to get back to work.

“We’re just excited to get back out there,” Cade said.

“Passion, energy and toughness” were Cade’s big takeaways from the Tigers’ 40-0 loss to Mazama in the season opener. The game was 7-0 at halftime with Mazama blowing ahead late for the win.

“You look at the Mazama sideline that had fifty guys on it and our sideline had seven,” Cade said. “That’s passion and grit. We battled with them. I’m proud of where we were.”

After just barely beating Parma 27-26 on Sept. 6, Aldred said the Vikings have a lot of work to do early in the season to get to where they want to be.

“Parma played a tough, clean game,” Aldred said. “They did really good things against us.”

Aldred said the Vale defense wasn’t able to get off the field at all against the Panthers, saying that Parma had a third and fourth down conversion rate somewhere close to 80 percent.

“Defensively, we have to tackle better,” Aldred said, getting ready for the Ontario game. “We have to play physical and we have to get off the field. We came into this week thinking we needed to start from square one with our defense but really it’s all about the fundamentals. We have to finish plays and tackle better. Just be who we are.”

Friday’s Ontario vs. Vale game will be at Vale High School starting at 7 p.m.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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