Money is raised to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis; and one of the longest high school rivalries in the nation goes on, at least in football

The fourth annual Battle for the Bridge alumni football game between alumni from Oregon City and West Linn high school football teams was a huge success.

Photo Credit: JOHN LARIVIERE - Rylee Ferro was the honorary team captain for Oregon City for this years Battle for the Bridge alumni football game. Ferro was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis just days after her birth in March of 2013. In four years, Battle for the Bridge has raised close to $80,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as that organization strives to find a cure.Oregon City won the Aug. 16 alumni game 24-9, an estimated $25,000 was raised to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, former coaches Ed Burton (Oregon City) and Ron Chappell (West Linn) were honored as the first inductees into the Battle for the Bridge Hall of Fame, and there was talk of expanding alumni games between the two schools to other sports.

“It’s been a great event from start to finish,” said Justin Fisher, who was one of the main organizers of this year’s Battle. “Not only did it raise well over $25,000 for a great cause, but it’s bringing together the West Linn and Oregon City communities to renew a rivalry that’s far greater than any individual involved. There was a great crowd, and it was a lot of fun....

“We’ve applied for Battle for the Bridge to become a nonprofit organization. We’re looking forward to Battle for the Bridge 5 in football, and all its offshoots.”

Fisher said he’s in conversations with Oregon City basketball coach Aaron Newkirk about extending the Oregon City vs. West Linn alumni games to the sport of basketball, perhaps as early as this year.

Photo Credit: JOHN LARIVIERE - Justin Fisher accepts the Battle for the Bridge trophy for Oregon Citys alumni team following the Pioneers 24-9 win over cross-river rival West Linn in the 2014 Battle for the Bridge alumni football game.“Hopefully the interest shown at the [alumni] football game will bring the administrations at the two schools back to their senses, and they’ll put the schools back together in the same league,” Fisher said. “This year the only sport where the high school teams are playing one another is in football, and that’s just not right. We’ve had tremendous rivalries over the years in basketball, wrestling, baseball and in other sports as well. It’s just wrong for those rivalries to end.”

Longtime Oregon City coach Ed Burton and longtime West Linn coach Ron Chappell were inducted into the Battle for the Bridge Hall of Fame during halftime of this year’s alumni game, and both were very appreciative of the recognition.

“That was pretty special,” said Burton. “It means a whole lot to be remembered as a person that made a difference back in the old days. A lot of the players [in this year’s alumni game were kids that I got to coach. That they’ve selected me to be a part of alumni history, I’m just very honored.

“This is my home. I’ve been here 37 years and I don’t want to be anywhere else. These are my neighbors and my neighbors kids. To come down to the field and watch these whipper snappers play, it’s just been a real treat.”

Photo Credit: JOHN LARIVIERE - Former Oregon City coach Ed Burton poses proudly with Oregon City alumni after being inducted into the Battle for the Bridge Hall of Fame at halftime of the 2014 Battle for the Bridge alumni game. Pictured with Burton are (from left) Doug Millard (25), Michael Canchola (21), Lucas Spooner (76) and Nick Shafer (59).Burton explained the importance of keeping the high school football rivalry going: “Every football game that’s played between Oregon City and West Linn is writing the history books. We’re the oldest consecutive rivalry between two schools west of the Mississippi. Not many schools anywhere in the country can say that. Our high schools have been competing for 94 years, through two world wars, developing young men who have made our communities the great communities that they are....

“The rivalry has been a rallying point. In football, there used to be a parade, where the visiting football team would walk across the bridge to the game. It makes Battle for the Bridge a very appropriate name for the alumni rivalry.

“My main concern is that with new people, the importance of the rivalry is lost, and it comes to an end. This year both high schools have new principals, new athletic directors and new football coaches. I think it’s really important that people let them know the importance of the tradition, and that we carry on the rivalry for as many years as we can.”

Oregon City alumnus Russell Schneider was big for the Pioneers at this year’s Battle for the Bridge alumni football game. The 2001 Oregon City High School graduate played a part in all of Oregon City’s scoring, completing touchdown passes to Tod Dekanter, Devin Hohensee and Ryan Wells, kicking a 30-year field goal and three extra points.

Photo Credit: JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City center Jason Lieby, age 43, proved a handful for West Linn defenders, as he threw a block during a drive in the 2014 alumni game. The game was played in the Oregon City High School stadium on Aug. 16.Schneider said that defense was pivotal in the game: “The defensive line played phenomenal. Except for [West Linn’s] first drive, they didn’t score again on offense.”

Schneider singled out Oregon City alumni Mike Short, Steve Stenger, C.J. Hagler and Keith Arnold for their standout play in the defensive front.

Photo Credit: JOHN LARIVIERE - Steve Stenger was a force for Oregon City on defense in the Pioneers 24-9 win over West Linn in this years Battle for the Bridge alumni game.“Mike Short is 49,” said Schneider. “He was our oldest player and I think the oldest player on either team. He was a monster on defense. He disrupted everything inside.”

Schneider said that Brandon Espy was a force at safety and linebacker, while cornerback Thad Rogers picked off a pass in the fourth quarter for the only interception of the game by either team.

Wells had a 77-yard pass reception that set up Oregon City’s first score, and J.B. Peterson had a late first-half reception that set up the Pioneers’ second touchdown, allowing them to go up 14-7 at the half.

Oregon City now holds a 3-1 advantage in the alumni football series, having beaten West Linn in 2011 (23-14) and in 2013 (16-15), and losing to the Lions in 2012 (36-35).

Oregon City also holds an edge in the high school series, 50-42-1.

In the four years of Battle for the Bridge alumni football games, Battle for the Bridge has raised in excess of $80,000 for the Oregon chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Rylee Ferro, the daughter of 2000 Oregon City High School graduate Eric Ferro, was the Oregon City’s honorary captain for this year’s Battle for the Bridge alumni football game. Rylee was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis just days after her birth in March of 2013.

“We’re so grateful to [the Battle for the Bridge organizers] and everyone involved,” said Rylee’s mom, Johnie Ferro. “They are doing some really amazing things through research. The life expectancy for someone with Cystic Fibrosis is currently age 32 to 38, and it’s doubled in just the last 15 years. They have gene specific trials going on right now. They are so close to finding a cure. They’re not there yet, but they are getting there. And even if they don’t find a cure they’re doing some some stuff that could be really life-changing and make a huge difference in quality of life for kids like Rylee.”

Readers can keep up on Battle for the Bridge alumni events at: The organization this year added a golf tournament and, Fisher says, an alumni basketball game this fall is a very real possibility.

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