Boulder senior Patrick Fletcher could have just gone to Silver Creek High School and avoided the whole conflict, if there ever was any.
However, his lineage drew him to be a Boulder Panther, and in fact there never was any doubt that's where he belonged. He's confident in his decision despite the fact he has a distinct tie to the very beginning of Fairview football.
Hard to say his late grandfather, Bob Foster, would have argued the decision, too.
You see, Foster has a unique place in Boulder sports history. He did coach for a long time at Boulder, and he was an athletic director at Centaurus in addition to holding many other titles through his career. But the man affectionately known as "Mad Dog" will forever be known as Fairview's first head coach.
So, back in 1964 when established Boulder took the first of three straight wins in the city championship — which will ignite again on Friday for the 54th time (5 p.m., Recht Field) — it was Foster who led the Knights from the sidelines. It didn't take long before Fairview got the first win in the series, that being 1967, while Foster was still at the helm. He finished at FHS with a 54-34-3 record and a trip to the 3A championship game in 1967.
Fletcher knows history may shine a red hue on Foster's legacy because of that, but in his mind his grandfather was Boulder through and through.
"My mom was a Panther and my uncle was a Panther, so I think that's what it was supposed to be for me," Fletcher said after a BHS practice this week. "It's cool to think of him as the first coach at Fairview ... but I'd say he was more of a Panther to be honest."
Foster passed away in 2010 due to complications from cancer, way before Fletcher first thought about high school ball, but one thing Fletcher he'll always remember his grandfather for is the game and showing him all it had to offer at a young age.
"He pretty much introduced me to football," Fletcher said. "I used to always go to the CU games with him, but he taught me a lot of how to play. He was always a coach, and the things he taught me just have always kind of stuck with me."
Go up and down the rosters for Boulder and Fairview, and you're going to find a handful of intertwining stories between the teams. Fletcher is hoping his story ends with Boulder's first victory in the series in the past 10 years.
The Knights, under the guidance of Tom McCartney, have won nine straight games between the teams and last year got one back in dominating form, 50-9.
But that was last year. The same game last season also took place right after Labor Day weekend, but the Knights were in a far better comfort zone then were the Panthers. Boulder had gotten destroyed by Denver South in Week 1 — head coach Vincent Smith's first game — while Fairview had handled Horizon with its hefty senior-led aerial assault.
Fairview's story stays fairly linear entering Friday's contest. The Knights are solid, and they proved as much with an even more lopsided 31-6 win over Horizon last Thursday night.
But for Boulder, a 27-25 win last week over the then-ranked No. 9 Rebels (in Class 4A) could be argued as the biggest the program has seen in the past five or six seasons. It may have came down to a crazy play — Fletcher's 80-yard kickoff return set up a Shane Provost shovel pass touchdown reception with just 2.3 seconds left to win it — the Panthers legitimately dominated the game.
That holds true especially in the run game, where Fletcher accounted for 193 yards on 29 carries. For Fletcher, the knowledge of Smith's system has grown immensely over the past year, and the offensive line he's running behind has given him a chance to be patient in finding the open gaps.
While the Panthers will surely hope to mix in the pass a little more so as to keep Fairview on its toes defensively, Fletcher is ready to attack.
"I think we've figured out a lot of things on offense, and everything all around just feels more solid for us," Fletcher said. "We have a strong senior class and a strong line — Spencer Clarke, Jackson Hussey, Joe Colucci, all of them are really key for us. It's the most put together this team has been since I've been here."
There's always a little more hype surrounding the rivalry game — and the fact Denver Broncos defensive back Justin Simmons visited both teams for a practice this week might encourage that even more — Smith simply said the Panthers need to hold up their end of the bargain this time. Coming off a big win might have set the right mindset in place, but Smith encouraged the team to keep grinding this week.
"What I've been telling them, and this might be contradictory to the rivalry, is that it's not a rivalry until you beat them," Smith said. "Right now, it's just two teams from the same town playing each other. We need to get back to making it a rivalry. It needs to be one of those edge-of-your-seats games and we want to bring a better contest to the game than a year ago."