By TOM WILLIAMS
Ocean City has played Mainland 44 times since the Linwood high school opened in the fall of 1961.
The two schools have played four times in the NJSIAA playoffs, each winning two. Home fields haven’t meant much – since the two teams resumed playing annually in 1993, the Mustangs have a 9-3 record at Carey Stadium and the Raiders are 8-6 at the Mustang Corral.
This year’s coaches – Kevin Smith and Chuck Smith (no relation) – were both on the 1983 Mainland team that lost to Ocean City, 28-0. Kevin was a freshman and Chuck a senior. In his senior year, Kevin’s Mustangs defeated the Raiders.
Tomorrow night, however, the rivalry game will start with a pre-game picnic rally two hours before kickoff at Carey Stadium. It will be the start of a special weekend – a weekend that combines Red & White Weekend with Homecoming, at least one reunion and a Hall of Fame ceremony.
The rally will begin at 4 p.m. and will feature food and drink, music, face painting and lots more. The charge is only $5.00 per person.
The game kicks off at 6 p.m. and is Ocean City’s Homecoming Game, so there will be the usual ceremony at halftime to introduce the Homecoming Queen candidates and announce the winner.
Following the game, fans are invited to gather at the Deauville Inn in Strathmere for Wing Night.
On Saturday there will be the Homecoming Dance plus the 20th reunion of the Class of 1997.
Then, on Sunday at noon, eight new members will be inducted into the OCHS Sports Hall of Fame. The group includes four athletes (Kevin Sinclair, Abbey Woolley, Leon Brown and Jen Blizzard); three coaches (Phil Birnbaum, Ralph Carson and Mike Naples); and one team (the 1996 football team).
The induction ceremony will be in the Bill & Nancy Hughes Performing Arts Center in this high school and is free of charge. The public is encouraged to attend. A luncheon-reception will be held after the ceremony, at 1:30, in the OCHS cafeteria. Luncheon tickets are $20 and will be available at the football game Friday night and at the door on Sunday.
This will be another special game, like the 44 before, between the Raiders and the Mustangs. But it starts early and you can take advantage of all the celebration by getting there early.
It all begins at 4 p.m. tomorrow.