GLENS FALLS -- After sitting on the shelf most of the last several years, the Jug — and the game it made famous — returns to the gridiron Friday night.
Hudson Falls and Glens Falls renew hostilities in a special nighttime edition, as the 40th Jug Game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Putt LaMay Memorial Field.
The teams will battle for the area’s most famous piece of pottery — a red-and-green painted whiskey jug — under portable lights in the first night football game at Glens Falls High School.
Steeped in the rich tradition of a rivalry that dates back to World War I, the Jug Game was shelved after 2004, as classification play broke up the Foothills Council and sent the Indians and Tigers to different leagues. Since then, the teams have met just once for the Jug, in 2010 as a season-opening non-league game.
This season, with Glens Falls dropping down to Class B for the first time in 10 years, the Jug Game is back as a Class B West divisional game, pitting the host Indians (4-1 division and overall) against Hudson Falls (2-2, 3-2).
“I told the kids, ‘This 48 minutes will live with you the rest of your life,’ ” said Tigers head coach Bill Strong, himself a Jug Game veteran. “There’s not a lot of situations that you experience that you can say that going in. That makes it very special for boys on both sides of the ball, no matter what uniform they’re wearing.”
“We know it’s a big game, all the traditions, how deep it is, it’s a huge game for all of us,” Hudson Falls senior linebacker Ethan Kelsey said. “We’re going to come out fired up.”
“It’s a sense of pride,” Glens Falls senior quarterback Cam Girard said. “I remember watching when my cousins played, you always wanted to beat Hudson Falls, you always wanted the Jug. It’s a crosstown rivalry, it’s our homecoming night, it’s under the lights...”
Glens Falls leads the Jug Game series by a 30-9 margin, and 52-36-1 in the entire rivalry series, dating back to 1917. Hudson Falls has not won the Jug since 1997, losing eight in a row, and last beat the Indians in the Class B semifinals in 2000.
Friday’s game pits the Indians’ high-powered offense against a young Hudson Falls team that has had an extra week to prepare. When Johnstown chose to forfeit the rest of its season, Hudson Falls was unable to find a replacement opponent for last weekend.
“It was an odd week, we treated it like preseason, we practiced long last week,” said Strong, whose team beat South Glens Falls 20-18 on Sept. 21. “The extra time helped our preparation, and also helped us heal up a little bit.”
The Tigers are led by sophomore running back Geno Brancati, who rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown against South High; athletic quarterback Steven Burch; and standouts Kelsey and Todd Colomb on defense.
“Part of me gets nervous — they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game, it’s actually like a whole preseason,” Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac said. “At the end of the day, it really comes down to blocking and tackling.”
Glens Falls is coming off a 48-20 victory at Broadalbin-Perth last week, in which Joe McMahon enjoyed a breakout game, rushing for 189 yards and five touchdowns. The rushing attack adds to the passing prowess of Girard, who has nine touchdown passes, six of them to Mike LaNoir.
“Their skill positions are outstanding, they can spread the ball around, they can throw the ball ... and defensively, they close to the ball really fast,” Strong said. “If you make a mistake, they will make you pay.”
“I hope that, although it’s the Jug Game and all the emotion that comes with it, I hope we treat it as a game where we get closer to our potential, which we’ve done the past four weeks,” Lilac said.
Six of the 15-foot generator-powered lights were rented from NES Rental by the Glens Falls Grandstanders booster club, and three more were donated for the game, Glens Falls athletic director Chip Corlew said. The school is also running a parking shuttle every 10 minutes from Morse Athletic Complex, starting at 6 p.m.