Rivals Prep for "The Game"

THEGAMEST. JOHNSBURY- "The game" can mean many different things to different people. It could be this weeks NFL matchup, or it could be any upcoming college game. But around these parts of the Northeast Kingdom, "The Game" refers to the annual Lyndon Institute vs. St. Johnsbury Academy football game.

 Saturday's game will be the 110th in the rivalries history, with the first game being held in 1894.

"It's like every other game, we're not treating it like it's a totally different game for us, just working on our defense and our offense and trying to keep everybody healthy and checking film." says LI Vikings head coach, Mark Palmieri

SJA leads the overall wins with 59, while LI is not far behind with 44. At last years game, held in Lyndon Center, the Vikings put on a show for their home crowd, defeating the Hilltopppers 62-29.

This year is a different story.The Vikings lost 18 seniors from the 2013 squad, and the Hilltoppers are 7-0 on the season, QB Colton Hudson says they are not letting their record get to their head.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact, we need to keep our head on our shoulders and just keep moving forward with it, I mean we gotta just realize what we were last year, a 3-6 team and we gotta keep that same mentality and I think we’ll do fine.”

Both teams have had a long, but rewarding week of practice before The Game this weekend, each not changing much to the normal practice routine, but amping up the energy as excitement starts to kick in.

“They have all the pressure leaning on them, we’re just going to go play our hearts out, cause they have a undefeated record right now so hopefully we can go break that.” says OL/DL Casey Deth.

Although the Vikings have only won two games this season, nothing is stopping them from giving it their all against the Hilltoppers. Deth explains why he thinks this game will be different from every other game SJA has played this season.

“I don’t know if they’ve played a team with as much heart as us, I think that we are a brotherhood and a family down here, and we’re loving football.”

While physical preparation is important for The Game, mental preparation is vital. With such a long standing history, and the rivalry being one of the biggest in New England, the varsity teams need to do a lot, not to crack under the pressure.

Hilltoppers running back, Caleb Stowell, knows that records don’t matter in this game, and that they can’t doubt the Vikings.

“The idea in our head that, you know it’s a game, we can’t just overthink and be cocky and think this is going to be a game where were gonna beat them and they’re not going to put up a fight, I mean every game, especially a rival game, anything can happen in a rival game.”

"The Game" is being held in St. Johnsbury this year, where the Hilltoppers are looking to finish their season 8-0, and start looking towards a playoff run.