Monday night kicked off a week long buildup to the Bayou Bowl match up between and Bridge City and Orangefield under the lights of the football field on Friday.

More than 100 people arrived to support the teams during the fourth annual scholarship banquet.

Master of Ceremonies, Jerry McGinnis, welcomed the guests to the event.

“This has been a dream of mine,” McGinnis said. “ Just because we live five miles apart doesn’t mean we have to hate each other.”

He went on to say, the group just all “needed to be friends.”

“Our two communities are number one, even though we are fighting for number three,” he said. “I hope the best team wins.”

McGinnis was referring to the third playoff spot. Whichever team should win Friday night will clench the third playoff spot while for the other team their season will end.

A long list of supporters was read during the event.

“I want to thank Mark Dunn and the Penny Record,” McGinnis said. “They never fail to support us.”

A friendly rivalry surrounds the Bayou Bowl which began in 2000 when UIL district realignment assigned Bridge City from a Class 4-A to a Class 3-A. As a result, the change pitted the Cardinals against the neighboring Bobcats.

The Penny Record newspaper coined the game name to the “Bayou Bowl.” The newspaper sponsored and promoted the event the first four Bayou Bowl contests. In 2004, the newspaper turned the trophy presentation over to the Bridge City-Orangefield Rotary Club, according to archives.

The Buzzie Gunn trophy remains the winning football team’s prize to keep until they meet again at the next Bayou Bowl. The trophy is regarded as a symbol for good sportsmanship and memorializes local photographer and Orange County enthusiast the late Buzzie Gunn. Along with his father, T.L. Gunn, the pair were pioneers in photographing the early years of Orange County football for the local media. Buzzie later became the second generation of Gunn’s Studio in Orange after shooting for various publications which included Sports Illustrated. Today the studio is owned by Buzzie’s son, Chris.

The money raised will go towards two $1,000 scholarships to be given to one football player from each team during their spring athletic banquet. The coaching staff of each team nominates three players. Then after carefully evaluating each nominee, one is chosen.

One of the guest speakers at the event was Brett Ramsey. During his time playing at Bridge City High School, as a quarterback, he was named as an All District Football Player. He was among the first group of players who played in the 3A division from 7th grade through high school. During his speech, he urged the players to “savor the moment” and to not try to  “speed things up.”He added that for some players this would be their last game to ever play  or to attend the practices.

“You may never get the feeling again,” he said. “Be in the moment because you may never get to have that again.’

Finally he added, “Play hard, play fast and will yourself to success.”

Cody Sparks, also a former football player, spoke to his days and memories of the Bayou Bowl.

“I will always  remember the Bayou Bowl as a special game,” he said.

Sparks was said to be a valuable player with a tremendous amount of athletic ability. Following his graduation he played at Tulane University and received a degree in accounting.

Zach Cole, Bridge City Senior and on the football team, spoke on behalf of his teammates.

“I have made some memories that will last a lifetime,” he said. “I am really thankful we can do this.”

Also speaking on behalf of his teammates was Eric Truncale who is a senior but also Orangefield’s quarterback.

“I have been blessed to play for the last three years,” Truncale said. “Outside of football, we are all friends.”

Bridge City Head Coach, Cris Stump also spoke to the football team and others. All jokes aside, he said for each member of the team to turn and ask a senior, “How fast did it go?”

Josh Smalley, Orangefield Head Coach, stated he has had the opportunity to coach at both schools, but loves where he is now.

“Just because you change jobs doesn’t mean you stop caring about people,” he added.

Smalley also informed everyone, both teams had defeated or lost to the same opponents and predicts the game on Friday night will be “close.”

In closing he said, “We’ll see you guys Friday night.”

Cody Sparks, former Bridge City football player, speaks to the crowd at the Bayou Bowl Scholarship Banquet to encourage them to remember and treasure their high school years while they can.