A big rivalry between teams always makes a game a little bit bigger. It is bigger for the players and coaches and it is bigger for the fans.
For Lancer football, there is no bigger game than The Battle of 109 between Lafayette and Eureka High Schools.
The first time the two met on the football field was 15 years ago, in 2008. But, a rivalry existed between the schools for years before that because the schools were located just miles apart on Highway 109 and many students knew one another from middle school or other outside of school activities.
At that time, Lafayette played in Class 6 of the Missouri State High School Activities Association and Eureka played in Class 5, so they never met on the field.
Head Coach Boyd Manne has led the Lancers for the past 18 years.
He said since he and Eureka’s head coach at that time, Farrell Shelton, believed the teams were very close in skill level, they wanted to give them the chance to play each other.
Manne said he wanted to give the players a challenge and also create a fun game experience for fans at both schools.
“I asked the Activities Director if we could start scheduling Eureka, because they had a great football program and I knew Coach Shelton, and I just thought it’d be a great atmosphere for high school sports,” Manne said.
So, in 2008, the Lancers hosted the first match-up between the two. Though the Lancers lost that game 12-7, the Battle of 109 was born and has become the highlight of each season ever since with record crowds at both schools.
During the events, record crowds tailgate and fill the stands — Lancers have their Superfans and the the Wildcats have the Catpound.
Early on, the games were just fun, non-Conference events. That has changed.
“As time has passed, obviously they were in our Conference and then Conferences split again. They are usually in our District, so that’s kind of how it started,” Manne said.
Both programs have been in Class 5, District 2 for the past two years and were in Class 6 together for about a decade before that. Because of that, in addition to the traditional Battle of 109, the teams faced one another in postseason games.
The only year in the past 15 the two teams did not play was the 2020 season when COVID-19 delayed and shortened the fall sports season.
Overall, in the past 14 years of regular season play, where the teams have played 13 times, the Wildcats lead the Lancers 9-4 overall. They have faced off in postseason play five times with Eureka leading 3-2 in those games.
Some of the largest crowds have been at Battle of 109 games even requiring shuttles to transport fans because of a lack of parking. Special shirts are often made for the games.
Manne said the event is one everyone always looks forward to.
“Every year it’s fun for our student body and for Eureka’s student body. It’s a great high school football atmosphere and this year is another year that it’ll be a fun experience for our student body and our players,” Manne said.
This year’s Battle of 109 will be an even bigger challenge for the Lancers as they will not only have to meet the Wildcats on their home field Oct. 7, but it is Eureka’s Homecoming.
Social studies teacher and Class of 2015 graduate Matt Waeckerle, who coaches freshman football, played for the Lancers all four years. He remembers the hype surrounding the Battle of 109.
“I always loved playing Eureka. Our games have always been close,” Waeckerle said. “They’re always a very consistent team and it takes the least amount of mistakes, coupled with a complete team performance, for either team to win.”