Rivalry rocks Mitchell: Great high school football rivalry fills Stadium with thousands of fans

Aug. 26—BLUEFIELD — Thousands of high school football fans converged Friday on Mitchell Stadium to see the latest game in a great rivalry that brings communities together for fun and fellowship.

Sunshine was warming Mitchell Stadium as fans started arriving and lining up at the gates so they could find and claim their perfect spot in the stands. Many waited in the shade, eagerly waiting for the big game between the Bluefield Beavers and the Graham G-Men.

Judy and Mike Wood of Bluefield were waiting to cheer on the G-Men and their son, Terun "Big T" Wood, Number 71. They wanted to make sure they found a good spot in the stands.

"It's very important to support our boys," Judy Woods said.

Another Graham parent, Rebecca Shupe of Abbs Valley, was there to cheer on her son Tristan Shupe, Number 29.

"Oh, it's amazing, the camaraderie between both sides," she said of the big game. "It's a friendly battle, and both sides have such energy. That makes it a fun game."

Another line was forming outside the stadium's opposite gate. Two of the waiting fans, Linda and Ronnie Shinault of Princeton, both graduated from Bluefield High School.

"We came to support the team," Ronnie declared.

"You know what the saying is," Linda added. "Once a Beaver, always a Beaver!"

"Win or lose!" he said.

Many of the fans carried seats to make the bleachers more comfortable. Children who didn't know how to talk yet and senior citizens carefully navigating their way with the help of canes were arriving for the game.

Fans started filling the stands and more arrived at a greater pace as the time for kickoff approached. Many families were ready to cheer the Beavers and others were ready to root for the G-Men, but some fans were ready to cheer for both teams.

Kathy and Kim Hess of Bluefield were sitting in the Beavers section, but last year they sat across the field with the G-Men fans.

"I'm a Beaver and my husband is a G-Man," she said with a smile. "We're a house divided."

Across the field, Jeff Hensley of Bluefield, Va. and his daughter Courtenie Bostic of Tazewell County were going through their G-Men programs Hensley said he is a 1981 graduate of Graham High School and played both football and basketball. And he remembers that time when he was on the field for a Beaver-Graham Game.

"Well, I come to this game every year," he said as the noise crew louder and more people poured into the stadium. "I want to support my school, and I like to support my G-Men."

Bostic graduated from Graham High School in 2015.

"This is my hometown team," she said as both teams warmed up on the field. "I want to support my team."

An airplane circled overhead. The U.S. Army's Golden Knights were scheduled to parachute into Mitchell Stadium at about 7:19 p.m., but low cloud cover prevented them from making the scheduled jump.

This did not stop the game from going ahead. Thousands stood as the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the coin was tossed. The Beavers would receive the kick-off from G-Men.

A great cheer went up as the game got underway. The latest Beaver-Graham Game was underway.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Contact Greg Jordan at