Students, former players share thoughts on final battle for the Mangy Lion

ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central competed in the final battle for the Mangy Lion.

Students and former players talked with 16 News Now about what the historic night meant to them.

“A lot of emotions. This is a really big game and the last one, so it’s going to be really exciting,” Elkhart Central student Antonia Hiland said.

“It is my senior year. It is our last year, and I am really excited to be able to celebrate it with my fellow seniors and classmates. It’s a big deal,” Elkhart Memorial student Megan Huys said.

At the game, there was not an open seat anywhere, and the energy was contagious.

“You walk in and you get this sudden urge of wanting to be loud and cheer for your team and support one another. It 's just a different energy,” Huys said.

“We look forward to this every single year. I mean, every game is pretty fun, but Mangy is just special, and nobody else really has this kind of rivalry,” Elkhart Central student Rylee Wiltfong said.

Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central have been rivals since 1972, when Elkhart High split. The Blazers and Chargers have competed ever since, even opening the season against each other since 2001.

Former player for Elkhart Central Michael Mitchell remembered his football-playing days vividly.

“It was exciting for me. The rivalry between us and Memorial was energetic, with bragging rights throughout the city. It was awesome,” Mitchell said.

The schools will be merging at the end of this school year to become Elkhart High.

“Bittersweet because, like I said, the rivalry was huge. …I am pretty sure once we combine a lot of practices, they will be very competitive also between the two schools,” Mitchell said.

“We are going to have a very good football team next year and for years to follow, and other sports as well,” Huys said.