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Friends and Foes: Rebels and Athletics have many connections beyond the diamond

Apr. 30—Whenever Southland and Lyle-Pacelli square off on the baseball diamond, there are many layers to the matchup that go beyond a simple game of baseball.

The rivalry between Southland and Lyle goes back at least three generations and the communities, which are separated by a short 15-mile drive, have plenty of family connections and memories of games that were played decades ago.

This year, the rivalry between the Athletics and Rebels is magnified as both squads have their eyes set on the state tournament. L-P took second in the Class A state baseball tournament last year and Southland, which lost to L-P in the Section 1A championship last year, is hoping to make a run this season.

The matchup is always a tricky one for L-P head coach Brock Meyer and his sons Landon and Grady, who both play for L-P. On one hand, the Meyers always want to beat one of their biggest threats in the area, but on the other hand, they can't help but admire what Southland has.

Brock's nephew Easton Meyer plays for Southland and Rebel second baseman Tyson Stevens played under Brock and with Landon for years at the All-Star and summer squad levels.

"They're just good kids," Brock said of Southland. "It's a rivalry, but I cheer for those kids and I'd like to see them do well. If it's not us, I'd like it to be them. It's great to see the ball players they've become, especially Easton and Tyson. They're good players and I enjoy watching them."

While Tyson and Landon compete against each other, their time as teammates goes all the way back to when they were eight years old. Tyson's dad Justin Stevens, who is now an assistant coach at Southland, also coached that All-Stars team and Justin and Brock kept things going when they started the Minny Blues, which was made up of Southland and L-P players.

"It's always a fun game when we play (L-P), you know they're going to be competitive and you always want to beat them," Tyson said. "I know they're good guys and I'm always talking to Landon whenever he gets to second base."

Landon said he tries not to think about the fact that he's facing off against Tyson and his cousin Easton when he takes on the Rebels during the game. But after the game, he always appreciates the time he gets to catch up.

"It's a lot of fun when we play Southland," Landon said. "They're always competitive and they always come to play. We expect to see them in the playoffs. They work their butts off just like we do. It's a process and you love to compete against them. We live for games against them."

Since he started coaching the current group of juniors when they were young kids, Brock has a great feel for how far both L-P and Southland have come over the years.

"To see the amount of work they've put in, it's satisfying," Brock said. "(During family get-togethers) we talk about the other teams more than we talk about going against each other and we give scouting reports. It's competitive when we play each other, but I hope they do well."

L-P beat Southland in the first matchup between the two teams last week and the Rebels and Athletics will face off again in Adams on May 16. The two teams are also very likely to meet up in the postseason.