The warrior vs. tiger has been a match-up since the beginning of time. Historically it may have been considered a classic competition between a hunter and exotic prey, however the concept has an entirely different meaning to Wilton and Ridgefield high school students alike.

This rivalry has defined both towns for as long as I can remember. I am always on guard in public when I see a student sporting orange and black sports apparel, as I am sure the Warrior blue and white inflicts upon Ridgefield students as well. I have heard many rumors about the origin of the rivalry: whether it dates back to a 1990s hockey fight, or simply a hyped-up competition between two strong sports programs. I even believe that at one point, Wilton and Ridgefield held a national record for the longest high school hockey game — a 1996 FCIAC quarterfinal tallying in 125 minutes of contest, including 10 eight-minute overtime periods.

Every Wilton-Ridgefield game is synonymous with unmatched levels of competition. When I was in eighth grade, my older brother’s 2017 varsity basketball team made history by advancing to the finals of the FCIAC championship. The icing on the cake? Their adversary was none other than the Ridgefield boys basketball team.

While Wilton ended up losing in a heart-wrenching battle, I was wholly impacted by the showing of our fans. The Wilton tribe filled three-quarters of the stands in that Fairfield Warde gym, sporting a sea of navy and white school spirit. Tribe balanced its time between chanting across the gym to the Ridgefield fans, while also releasing a thunder of cheers for every single one of our team’s successes. Any Wilton kid, first to eighth grade, in the Warde gym that day was taught the passion and pure pride of being a Warrior.

Games against Ridgefield always bring out the best tenacity in our athletes, and an even stronger unity in the Wilton community. Ridgefield games also bring out the strangest of superstitions. I was one of four lucky freshmen to wear a full tiger onesie to school on the day of our rivalry soccer game. The four of us tigers would shuffle through the halls while upperclassmen on the team, dressed in full camouflage gear, hunted us down.

As I write this, I am preparing for my final night participating in a classic Wilton vs. Ridgefield soccer showdown. Many of the Ridgefield players have been my club soccer teammates in the past, so therein lies a conflict of interest. Seeing my friends and old teammates on the opposing team evokes a sense of irony that is nearly comical, however any semblance of amicability is usually withheld until after the game (notwithstanding a few moments of concealed laughter and quiet remarks on the field). We all have a mutual, unspoken agreement that when game time arrives, our friendship is temporarily sidelined to our inherently competitive spirit. That being said, if someone pushes down one of my friends (either Wilton or Ridgefield), I can wholeheartedly say that I will be the first one there reaching a hand to help them up.

At the end of the day, a Wilton vs. Ridgefield game is renowned in the state as arguably one of the biggest rivalries. And, while inter-town friendships are great, blue blood runs thicker and our prevailing determination epitomizes Warrior pride and unity — let’s roll!

Libby Connolly is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.