By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal

Mark your calendar for next week’s “Bayou Battle” – an old football rivalry with a new cause.

Fruitport and Spring Lake will play their annual rivalry game Sept. 7 and two local charities will benefit. The winning team also will possess for a year a new traveling trophy – a big wooden canoe paddle painted in both school colors and etched with the phrase “Bayou Battle.”

Spring Lake attorney Ed Grafton said the idea for the traveling trophy came from Spring Lake Rotary Club meetings last year. Grafton was president of the club at that time.

“We came up with the idea of having a traveling trophy, but every year, each school can pick a charity and raise money for it,” Grafton said. “We came up with it last football season and it took us a year to set it up.

“Starting next week, people can show support for their school by giving generously at (Orchard Lake Market grocery stores). We’re really excited it involves young people and we’re excited it has a charity angle.”

Spring Lake football players decided to play this year’s game for “The People’s Center,” while Fruitport players designated “No More Sidelines” as their charity.

The money for charity will be raised thanks to Gary Gerlach, who owns the Orchard Market stores in Fruitport and Spring Lake. Customers will be asked at checkout if they want to donate $1 or more to their school’s charity.

“Gary is a big school supporter and thanks to him we have a way for both communities to get involved,” Grafton said. “Part of (next week), the trophy will be on display at both stores in Fruitport and Spring Lake.”

The idea of a traveling trophy is an old concept. For years, Grand Haven and Holland have played for The Wooden Shoes.

Grafton thinks the big canoe paddle will be a perfect traveling trophy to display the scores of the annual games between Fruitport and Spring Lake.

“I’m sure we will see the winning team grab it and scream and yell,” Grafton said. “But when a defensive tackle drops it, it won’t break. It will look nice in the trophy cases.”