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Media Release: Elkhart Memorial Vs. Elkhart Central

August 16, 2016

Elkhart Central vs. Elkhart Memorial Featured in 2016 Great American Rivalry Series

Indiana’s “Battle for the Mangy Lion” HS Football Rivalry Receives National Attention

Elkhart, IN:  August 19, 2016 – The Great American Rivalry Series is proud to announce that it will feature the “Battle for the Mangy Lion” between annual rivals the Elkhart Memorial Chargers and the Elkhart Central Blue Blazers in the Series’ first weekend of games for 2016. This famed Indiana rivalry will be presented this year by the United States Army and played on August 19th at Elkhart Memorial. This game will be one of 100 showdowns highlighted in 40 different states in this year’s Series’ schedule.

The Rivalry Series features games from California to Washington and from Florida to Maine. Great American Rivalry Series founder Rick Ford notes, “These are those very special games, contested every year between longtime rivals that create memories for a lifetime. The winner takes home the winning trophy, but most importantly, the pride of an entire community”

The Memorial Chargers and the Central Blue Blazers will take the field for week one of the 2016 Series continuing their battle for the Mangy Lion Trophy, which has been played since the division of Central and the creation of Memorial in 1972. Mangy was commissioned by the Elkhart Lion’s Club in 1972 and carved by Jim Holland, who was a longtime Elkhart Community Schools teacher. Mr. Holland found a large walnut tree in the woods that had been downed by a lightning strike (250 pounds before carving). He thought it the perfect tree out of which to mold a trophy, since, by surviving a brutal storm, it had already demonstrated the strength and perseverance he wanted the trophy to represent. Elkhart Central leads the series 25-19 and currently houses Mangy going into the 2016 contest following its success in last year’s game.

An in-school Rivalry Fitness Challenge will also take place between the two schools during the week leading up to the game. The school that proves to be the fittest will be awarded a crystal trophy at halftime of the game. The winning team on the field earns year-long bragging rights with the Great American Rivalry Series Champions trophy, presented by the Army. The game’s Most Valuable Player and the top student-athlete from each school are also recognized as part of the Series.

“The Great American Rivalry Series and the Rivalry Series Fitness Challenge offers both academic and physical challenges, which reflect key elements of life as a soldier,” said Kelli Bland, U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s public affairs officer. “In the Army, we build our Soldiers physically, morally and academically; we build them to be qualified for life, not just the Army. We appreciate the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of these students.”

You can find more information at or through the Series’ Twitter handle @AmericanRivalry, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts. Previews and past results will be posted throughout the season with details of the team’s performance after the game where fans can relive the excitement through photo galleries and game recaps.


Fans can add to the intensity of the rivalry via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram using #GreatAmericanRivalry. The Rivalry can also be found on YouTube (AmericanRivalry). Fan photos posted with this hashtag may be featured on the Great American Rivalry Series website’s new Fan Photo Gallery, and promoted via other social media outlets.


In 2004, iHigh, Inc. (now known as BrainBox Intelligent Marketing) created the Great American Rivalry Series to celebrate this uniquely American sport and the cultural phenomenon of “Friday Nights in America.” In 13 years, the Series has featured more than 600 classic games in 42 states, recognizing 1,153 student athletes with scholarships while it continues to shine the spotlight on top high school football rivalries across the nation

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What is the Great American Rivalry Series?

Each fall for over a century, high school football has been the centerpiece for families and communities on Friday night. In 2004, iHigh, Inc. created the Great American Rivalry Series to celebrate this uniquely American sport and the cultural phenomenon of “Friday Night in America.” The Series shines the spotlight on top high school football rivalries across the nation, where long-standing traditions are valued, expectations are sky high, and followers are committed.