Opinion: Homecoming match-up supercharged by grudge match between crosstown rivals

The Colton-Grand Terrace rivalry takes center stage as the two face off at Colton’s Homecoming game


J. Dollins

Michael Razo and the Yellowjacket captains get the CHS crowd all fired up at today’s Homecoming Pep Rally.

Friday´s Homecoming game is set to be one of the biggest rivalry games in school history. 

Colton vs Grand Terrace.

School vs. school.

City vs. city.

The rivalry has been alive for 10 years.

“There’s stories I can’t tell you because it’d get people in trouble and fired,” said former athletic director Scott Sunderland.

There used to be no Grand Terrace High School. The school started construction in 2010, but was delayed by a lot of weather changes before being finished and opened on August 6, 2012.

From the get-go, the rivalry between Colton and Grand Terrace was felt. Part of this was due to the socioeconomic divide the new school created in the community. “They built a pretty school over there. Which split up the community,” said Linda Canas, an office secretary.

Even the Colton High staff was split, with several former Yellowjackets finding a new home amongst the Titans.

Sunderland indicated the source of the rivalry may have had more to do with pride, and less with economics. “Adults take it more seriously and worse than the actual students that are on that field playing,” he said.

Current Colton head coach Ray Rodriguez was an assistant coach at Grand Terrace from 2013 through 2018, so he has had the privilege of being on both sides of the rivalry. “Early years there was a lot of animosity,” he said. “The kids went a little bit over the top. Last couple years, things have settled down.”

He shared there is a lot of respect between the students on both teams since most of them have played in local sports leagues together. However, he agreed with Sunderland on one point: “Adults make it a little more serious than it needs to be.”

It’s a different world between Grand Terrace and Colton. The student-athletes handle it better than the adults and the parents. They show more respect towards each other even though they are opponents of two of the most competitive teams.

Tonight, Colton High’s football team will face off against Grand Terrace for the first time in Colton’s Homecoming game history.

It will be a great, cliff-hanging game and, obviously, a very competitive game.

The scheduling of the game has obviously created a real buzz in both communities, but also some head scratching as to how it happened. After all, how would it look if Colton faced off against their number one rival on Homecoming and lost?

Turns out, part of the scheduling was really due to issues involving conference placement. Currently, Colton and Grand Terrace are both in the San Andreas League, but before the season began, Grand Terrace was placed in the Sunkist League.

According to athletic director, Jacob Van Hofwegen, Grand Terrace was swapped out of the Sunkist League for Jurupa Hills, who were bumped up into the more competitive league as they were shaping into a local powerhouse.

“Spring season happened,” Van Hofwegen said. “Jurupa got a lot of kids, and it bumped them up into a better league.”

After the league switch, the choice for the Homecoming opponent came down to Kaiser, Summit, and Grand Terrace. “We looked at our later home games, and saw they would be really tough ones,” Coach Rodriguez explained. “When we saw GT, we knew it would be closer. The competitor in us said ‘why not?’”

On paper, the two teams look very similar. Grand Terrace’s football team is currently 4-5 coming into tonight’s game. Colton is 4-4, having had a previously scheduled game against Jurupa Hills canceled.

Besides their San Andreas League records, there are other records that matter even more. Grand Terrace currently has the advantage in head-to-head matchups, having won the last five meetings between the two teams. Colton took the first three.

No matter which side you’re on, this game always promises to a very competitive contest between local rivals.

Grand Terrace head coach Robert Martinez said, “It is a very competitive game between both communities, with people having family members going to two different schools. And it really just brings both communities some good fun competition.”