Storied football rivalry in Maine takes on extra significance in wake of shooting

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LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — The city of Lewiston takes another tentative step in its recovery from Maine’s worst mass shooting, as high school football returns Wednesday.

Known as the “Battle of the Bridge,” the game features cross-river rivals Lewiston High School and Edward Little High School in Auburn. Friday’s game between the Blue Devils and the Red Eddies was postponed after the communities were locked down while police searched for 40-year-old Robert Card. He was found dead Friday, days after shooting and killing 18 people and injuring 13 others at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston.

“It’s seemingly more symbolic than ever,” Lewiston Public Schools Superintendent Jake Langlais said of the game that comes after residents in both Lewiston and Auburn lost family and friends in the Oct. 25 shooting.

“It’s the first time since this terrible event that both communities have really felt we could come back together and at least try to make new memories to replace the terrible things we saw and heard last week,” he said. “It’s really deep if you think of it from that context of we are going to climb out of this hole together.”

The game is one the most important every year for the former mill towns, with friends and family having connections to it that go back decades. In the past, the schools would have a walking parade from one city to the next, with fans dressing up in their team colors of blue and white and maroon and white. The winner of the game gets to hold a trophy for the year, and, of course, gets the bragging rights that go with the victory.

“It’s bigger than just the rivalry across the river. It’s been a bit of a production,” Langlais said, adding that Wednesday night’s crowd was likely to be bigger than ever.

This game even caught the eye of actor Will Ferrell, who did a hype video that the Lewiston High School athletic department posted on social network X, formerly known as Twitter. In it, Ferrell stares into the camera as if he is a coach prepping his players for the big game.

“Today’s the day. Showdown. Lewiston versus Edward Little. Everyone’s going to be watching, everyone’s going to be talking about it,” he said. “So, lets bring it on! Lets bring it on like Donkey Kong! Have a great game. Go! Fight! Win! Whatever that means.”

The school confirmed it worked with Ferrell on the video, with Langlais calling him a “good human that thought comedy and humor might help as part of the healing process.”

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