PAGLIA: Where the rivalries are

Sports writer Brian Paglia

Sports writer Brian Paglia

It’s the best one-sided rivalry in Henry County. Maybe in the entire state.

Ola and Union Grove softball has quickly transformed into something of must-see high school sports theater, even if the Lady Wolverines seem to have the Lady Mustangs figured out lately.

Or maybe the Lady Mustangs just haven’t figured out Union Grove senior pitcher Megan Betsa.

Union Grove is 6-2 against Ola since the teams first started playing in 2006, and the Lady Wolverines have won five of the last six meetings. In those five wins, Union Grove has won by a combined 14-1.

Well, Ola did win once last year, in a 1-0 victory. And, the Ola community would probably be the first to point out it was the Lady Mustangs who lasted longer in the Class AAAA tournament last season.

That’s the point. This is the premier match-up of talent in the Southern Crescent across all sports.

To be kind, though, let’s look at the others this fall:

Cross country: Eagle’s Landing vs. Union Grove.

Apologies to Luella, which often has a premier runner or two and very often has itself in good position by the county championship.

There hasn’t been a serious rival for Union Grove girls lately. The Lady Wolverines have won the past five county championships.

But the boys teams tend to be carbon copies of the other — solid, yet not spectacular runners who race well as a team.

Which makes for exciting county meets.

Football: North Clayton vs. Riverdale.

It’s the kind of game that follows you around town. It comes up at Wal-marts and grocery stores, gas stations and banks.

North Clayton vs. Riverdale is the closest thing Clayton County has to a truly consistent competitive rivalry in football.

Lovejoy is in a different stratosphere than Mundy’s Mill.

Jonesboro and Mount Zion has the emotion, but the quality of competition wavers too often.

Morrow and Forest Park aren’t the same teams they were in the 90s.

So it’s up to the Eagles and Raiders to give fans a real Friday night sight.

Lucky us, they’ll give it to us this week.

Volleyball: ELCA vs. Jonesboro.

These teams may seem like an off pairing.

One is a Christian private school in Henry county whose roster is filled with volleyball-first players.

The other is a public school in Clayton County with a roster that tends to mirror the girl’s basketball team.

But the past few years they’ve developed a friendly rivalry that helps both teams — ELCA gets legitimate competition, while Jonesboro gets a legitimate challenge.

Both benefit and usually end up the better for it by the time the state tournament comes around.

Brian Paglia covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at bpaglia@news-daily.com. On Twitter? Follow him at @BrianPaglia.