The history of the Battle of the Ax

The history of the Battle of the Ax
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 11:16 PM CDT
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SHERMAN/DENISON, Texas (KXII) -The Denison Yellow Jackets and Sherman Bearcats have faced off 123 times, the longest high school football rivalry in the state of Texas.

”It really doesn’t matter where it’s at, honestly. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be energetic,” said former Denison quarterback Stanley Morrison. “Everybody’s going to be ready to play no matter what.”

”It doesn’t matter what your record is,” said Nate Omayebu, former Sherman running back. “You can be 0-9 and then you get to that game and win that game, that’s honestly all that matters at some point.”

The rivalry dates back to 1901. Through the first few years of the rivalry, the teams would often play each other more than once during a season.

”It began to settle into more of a real game between two towns and two schools around 1925, 1930, somewhere in there,” said Denison play-by-play announcer Lynn Burkhead.

The name “Battle of the Ax” and coveted trophy, know as “Ye Old Battle Ax,” weren’t introduced to the rivalry until 1949.

”If you look at the bottom blade of one side, it’s actually, technically, the Jack Barker Award,” said Burkhead. “Mr. Barker was a Denison business man and in 1949 he wanted to give them something positive to compete for, a trophy.”

”Mr. Barker apparently wanted to do some sportsman within the rivalry,” said Jay Lindly, Sherman play-by-play announcer.

”And the Battle of Ax has been on ever since,” said Burkhead. “Best in Texas. Best football game in Texas.”

Sherman leads the overall series 68-47, with eight ties between the teams. The Bearcats also hold the longest winning streak at 11 games.

The tide began to turn for the Yellow Jackets in 1982. Since that season, Denison is 24-15 in the rivalry and currently riding a 9-game winning streak of their own.

“It’s a lot to say that we have the Ax,” said Denison head coach Brent Whitson.

But no matter which team has the upper hand, you can always expect both communities to be ready for kickoff.

”Until you get out there and experience it and you can feel the energy and the passion from both sides of the field, it’s real indescribable,” said Sherman head coach Cory Cain. “It’s something that’s important. It’s something that we want.”

”It’s a big deal. It’s one of those games that you look forward to each year,” said Morrison. “It’s a game that people are going to be at no matter what.”

”It’s one day, one game,” said Lindly. “It’s bragging rights for the year. It’s the most legit rivalry I’ve ever been a part of.”

”You got uncles and aunts that went to Sherman that always come back, that moved away,” said Omayebu. “They may not come back for every game but they’re going to make it to that game.”

This Friday, August 26, Sherman and Denison will meet on the field once again for the 124th Battle of the Ax. The game kicks off at Munson Stadium at 7:00 pm.