The Michigan and Ohio State of Elkhorn

The school split of Elkhorn High and Elkhorn North has set the stage for a rivalry between the schools.


Photo by Payton Coulter

The Elkhorn North offense and Elkhorn defense line up for the coming play.

By Caleb Polking, Striv/Sports Manager

The Red River Showdown, Bedlam, The Iron Bowl, The Holy War, Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, The CyHawk Series, The Axe Game. Then there’s “The Game,” as it is known to be the name of the historic rivalry in college football played between Michigan and Ohio State. Rivalries between schools everywhere. And In Elkhorn, the same situation has begun a second time.

In 2018, the construction of Elkhorn North began and the future of students north of Maple Street was underway. One of the first things that came to the minds of many was competition in athletics between Elkhorn North and Elkhorn High, especially in the first few years in which teammates would be playing against former teammates. Now, in Elkhorn North’s first year of school, the stage has been set for a rivalry to form between the two schools. 

Long time Elkhorn High teacher and coach, Jon Bacus, has seen it all and is already excited for the future of play between these two schools.

“In football, Elkhorn North won a game and was competitive in several other games against good teams,” Bacus said when asked about what he has seen so far in terms of a rivalry forming between the two schools. “I believe it is already a rivalry and is getting the attention of everyone.” Mr. Bacus has been in the Elkhorn district for 44 years, coaching football and basketball both at the middle school and high school level.

On the Elkhorn North side of things, sophomore cross country runner and basketball player, Meghan Cunningham, had her take on the school split and the status of the rivalry.

“At first I did not want to split schools because I wanted to play sports at Elkhorn High, but now I’m really glad we switched schools because I think it’s nice to have a new school and new opportunities,” Cunningham said. “Less people makes it easier to know everyone and gives everyone more opportunities.”

Competition between the two schools is already in the full swing of things, but many believe that it will take a bit longer for the two schools to have a rivalry fully developed that is well known throughout Nebraska, particularly the Omaha metro. 

Elkhorn High sophomore Chase Ruch, who is a soccer player and also broadcasts Elkhorn High sports for STRIV T.V., has already seen several of the games played between the schools.

“With rivalry you need tradition, and there’s not much yet at Elkhorn North. With rivalry you need competitiveness. We’ve seen that in some sports, but for the most part Elkhorn High has been on the dominating side,” Ruch said. “It’s going to take a few years for me personally to really consider it a rivalry.”

Cunningham believes it will take a little less time for the rivalry to establish itself.

“I think it’s going to kick in next year when we have a senior class because I feel like it will be more even as we will have a bigger school,” Cunningham said.

As many people remember, Elkhorn South, on the other side of Dodge Street, opened up just a short ten years ago. The same situation happened for them, as they had no senior class year one and really got it taken to them in most sports. However, the rivalry kicked in pretty quick and has been one of the better known rivalries throughout Omaha in recent years. 

“Mr. Baker, the former superintendent who used to be the PA announcer for football games told me this story,” Bacus said. “During the first football game played between the two schools, everyone thought Elkhorn High was going to win without a contest. But by about the third series, Elkhorn didn’t score and South did and you could see the Antlers were ticked off. Little things like this really got the rivalry going.”

Elkhorn North sophomore Ian Armbrust also had a perspective on the rivalry forming between Elkhorn High and Elkhorn North. 

“I’ve already seen a lot of trash talk and competitiveness between the two schools. Even though the football game wasn’t close, I still saw signs of a rivalry already.” Armbrust plays tennis, basketball, and golf so he will be competing against his former teammates several times throughout the rest of his high school career. “It was a little weird playing against Elkhorn High in tennis especially seeing my old coach, but it was fun. That was our first win of the season. I’m really excited to play against them in basketball as well.”

One of the biggest topics of interest in terms of this rivalry has been which school will ultimately triumph over the other in the long run.

“Elkhorn North will eventually be better in most sports because they will have more people, and they may even move up to Class A before too long,” Ruch said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the district redraws the borders eventually in order to balance out the population.”

It may not be a Michigan-Ohio State battle with jam-packed crowds of 107,000 people at Michigan Stadium year in and year out, but Elkhorn High and Elkhorn North have the opportunity to create a Nebraska high school rivalry that will go down in the books.