A rivalry emerges between Sun Prairie East/West football teams
Sun Prairie East will face Sun Prairie West on Sept. 16 at Ashley Field.
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - When Sun Prairie High School’s football season came to an end in November of 2021, Head Cardinals Coach Brian Kaminski had a decision to make.
“For us the hard thing was after the State Championship game last year that we lost to Franklin,” Kaminski said. “We didn’t know what we were going to do, are we gonna change to Sun Prairie East?”
A 2019 referendum approved by Sun Prairie voters decided that Sun Prairie would build another high school, Sun Prairie West. This meant that starting in the fall of 2022, some students who attended East would now go to West. However, after the football season ended, Kaminski said his staff decided to continue to have the athletes work out as one team.
“We decided everyone is a Cardinal that year so we kept everyone in the weight room that wanted to be in there they still came in the mornings and really we didn’t split I’d say until the summer time,” Kaminski said.
Kaminski said they found out in December what athletes would be attending West and the transition has been more hard mentally than anything else.
“One thing I think we try to do as coaches is build relationships with the young people in our program,” Kaminski said. “My son is a senior, my daughter a junior so you know those two classes on a whole different level. Some stay with you and some go to the other school and it’s a weird transition, it’s hard.”
Kaminski said his football roster went from around 75 to roughly 45, and those 30 guys would now play under new West Head Coach, Josh O’Connor.
O’Connor previously was at Oconomowoc High School and said the opportunity to build something new that also had a strong foundation was what made him excited about the West job.
“One of my first focuses when I got the job was building the trust of the athletes,” O’Connor said. “Because it doesn’t matter how much you know, until they trust you it doesn’t matter to them.”
O’Connor said the Sun Prairie community has welcomed him with open arms and his team already has their eyes on September 16, when Sun Prairie East and West will face off on the football field.
“When I’d get to meet some of the players for the first time they’d always say we have to win that East/West game so they all had it circled for me already,” O’Connor said. “We’re excited to get to that point but we have a lot of work to do ahead of us until we get to that point.”
Sun Prairie Area School District Athletic and Activities Director, Eric Nee, said ultimately the decision to build another school will give more students opportunities to get involved whether it’s with a sport or on-campus organization.
“We’re giving more kids opportunities who might not have seen the field who might not have seen the court,” Nee said. “They have the opportunity now.”
When September 16 rolls around... Nee said his plan is to remain unbiased.
“You just rotate between the red and the navy,” Nee said. “Or you find clothing that has red and navy in it so you just stay neutral.”
Sun Prairie East opens their football season on Thursday, August 18 against Monona Grove at Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium, while Sun Prairie West starts their season on Friday, August 19 at home against Madison East.
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