For as long as most residents of Las Cruces, New Mexico can remember, the biggest football game of the year has nothing to do with New Mexico State University. It is the game between two of their largest high schools: Las Cruces vs. Mayfield. For 46 years, these two teams have met up, dividing the city into two classes: Bulldawgs vs. Trojans. In the first part of November nearly 30,000 people attend the game held at the NMSU Aggie Memorial Stadium as none of the high school fields are large enough to hold the massive crowd. On the evening of the event, the sounds of the fans can be held throughout the city carried by a breeze to even the furthest outreaches of Las Cruces. This rivalry is so intense, filmmaker Charlie Minn made a film called “Cruces Divided” which a clip can be viewed on www.crucesdivided.com.
The rivalry activities begin well before the game. This year the community has come together and created a week-long “Rivals United to Beat Hunger” canned food drive. They kick off the week with a parade. There is no fee to attend the parade and donations that exceeded production costs are donated to Roadrunner Food Bank, a local community charity. The schools are competing for a traveling trophy that comes along with bragging rights on community support. Food donation bins will be located at both entrances of Aggie Stadium and attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods. It is just one of the many ways the rivalry has brought the community together as a whole.
Every year on a Friday afternoon in November you will see the Aggie Stadium parking lot quickly fill up with tailgaters and loyal fans. Families are divided within the stadium walls. Cousin against cousin, brother vs. brother, mothers against dads – all depending on where they went to high school. The first time I attended the game I was dumbfounded. I kept asking those around me if it was like this every year. It reminded me of a professional NFL game, with the same heightened sense of excitement and the fury of the fans.
To experience a true rivalry game, one must attend a Las Cruces vs. Mayfield High School game. Once featured on the RivalsHigh Game of the Week, this Bulldawgs vs. Trojans event is known nationally. It is the largest prep football game in the Southwest. But what is even more outstanding is that even though Las Cruces is divided in the stadium, they stand together outside the walls.