As the annual Elder-Oak Hills football game draws near, there are signs of a crackdown on one aspect of the longtime neighborhood rivalry.
Green Township police made it known this week that they are being extra vigilant about a questionable tradition.
They do not want a repeat of last year’s road sign damage and arrests.
They are paying close attention to a narrow, twisting stretch of Ebenezer Road near Muddy Creek.
Some west side denizens will tell you the tradition of marking school colors along Ebenezer has been going on since the beginning of time.
Last year, ahead of the Elder-Oak Hills rivalry on the field, four Panther students and four Highlanders off-site were caught in the act of spray-painting road signs.
While they may not have intended to compromise safety, that was the result along what’s essentially a rather steep hairpin curve.
“If we catch someone doing it, we are indeed going to make an arrest and prosecute,” emphasized Green Township Police Chief Jim Vetter. He is an Elder graduate who married an Oak Hills grad. Vetter gets it about the rivalry, but draws the line at defacing signs.
“They’re providing guidance to the motorists, and when they’re defaced and you can’t read them, it creates a situation that can be dangerous,” said Vetter.
At both schools, the message about the spray paint tradition has been delivered.
Student leaders like Elder’s Lou Langen, a senior and student body president, don’t want any tarnish on the game’s tradition.
“I have a lot of pride in our school,” said Langen. “All our students do. You see our cheering section, you see the hype of the game and we don’t want it to turn into something that looks badly on the school.”
On the guardrails, hydrants and telephone poles along twisting Ebenezer, the color crews have been busy this week.
There are splotches of purple here and there, ripples of red and black and markings of both schools on poles and stones.
So far this week, no road or safety signs have been compromised, according to police.
They assured us officers would be extra vigilant about it.
“Well aware of that message,” noted Travis Hunt, who is the principal at Oak Hills High. “I actually sent that message on to our students again, reminding them this morning.”
Brian Flaherty, the assistant principal at Elder, told us, “One of the big things here at Elder is to try to promote the Elder man, and one of the qualities of the Elder man is respect.”
Property is part of that…