The two schools revived their gridiron rivalry in 2012, after going nearly 50 years without meeting. Hopkins won all four encounters, twice by comfortable margins, 35-6 and 27-8, and twice by single digits, 19-12 and 34-28.
Not so in bygone days, when Wayland dominated the series while the two schools were members of the defunct Bar-Ken-All Conference. They also met for four consecutive years at the end of each season from 1967 through 1970. Wayland won all four of them..
Today, Hopkins is a member of the O-K Silver Conference and Wayland is in the O-K Gold.
The thinking by athletic officials from both schools four years ago was that a neighborhood rivalry game would provide a quality start to the football season. Players from both squads know each other well and traveling costs would be very low.
However, it was mutual agreement that the two schools decided to end the gridiron rivalry.
Hopkins Athletic Director Adam Valk explained, “When talking with our coach (Cody Francis), he stressed he did not want to continue to play Wayland due to a couple factors.
“With the original O-K Conference realignment, we would have been mandated to play a O-K Blue opponent in a cross-over matchup. Having an O-K Blue and an O-K Gold opponent on our schedule would make it a really tough schedule, as it was this year for us.
“Wayland’s football program went to three levels (varsity, junior varsity and freshman) whereas Hopkins only has two levels.
“Our coach wanted to play teams closer to our enrollment, as we continue to decline in enrollment.”
Because Hastings left the O-K Gold Conference, an updated realignment proposal was passed in which the O-K Silver no longer needed to play in the cross-over game with the O-K Blue, but at that time Hopkins already had scheduled its season opener. “Otherwise I believe we would have continued the game against Wayland,” Valk added. “We have scheduled Newaygo High School as our week one opponent.”
PHOTO: Excitement ran high in the first year of the Wayland-Hopkins neighborhood rivalry game in 2012, as T-shirts were being hawked in both schools’ hallways and at the game.