Tonawanda News — After last season’s T-NT game, it took Tonawanda coach Rob Gross a while before he could watch the film.
It had been 14 years since the Warriors went into the locker room at half time with a lead over rival North Tonawanda. It felt like 2012 was the year. But NT scored the only touchdown of the half and outlasted the Warriors, 17-14.
It took Gross a while but he finally stumbled on a realization about that game that has him and his program re-energized.
“In the short term that was a game that took me a while to watch it. In the long term, after now having watched it more times than I can count — going through every single play — the main thing I took away from last year is that we’ve announced to everybody that this will be a competitive game,” he said.
“I’ve always said as soon as we can consistently make this a competitive game, the talk that was emerging of ending the rivalry will stop. I didn’t hear anybody talk about ending the rivalry this year, despite us now being a C school and them being an A school. We need to compete and this needs to be a completive game.”
The Warriors began their transformation into a competitive football team the moment Gross stepped back on the sidelines. But he wasn’t alone; he brought his father, Rob Gross Jr. and his brother, Matt Gross to help him protect the tradition.
“My father’s presence is a direct link to the tradition for our guys,” Gross said. “That was most notable when we honored the ‘63 team, the undefeated ‘63 team when my dad was a junior. They’ve always known the tradition exists, but to bring back the players to talk to them and to see people who experienced the tradition is valuable. That’s irreplaceable and that’s hard to duplicate.”