KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Football coaches, by nature, are not extraordinarily nostalgic.
So don't expect many tears from the Tri-City coaches over leaving the Big Nine behind as the Mid-Columbia Conference rears its head.
"It's more like it was earlier when we got to play Kennewick, Kamiakin and Southridge," said Chiawana coach Steve Graff. "Those crosstown rivalries, those will be fun games. The kids have all grown up together, played against each other most of their lives in different sports.
"And not having to travel will be nice, even though we do go to Wenatchee."
That last sentiment sums the the biggest reason the Mid-Col was formed among the seven Tri-City schools and Walla Walla.
Estimates vary, but the general consensus is that Pasco and Richland school districts each will save in the neighborhood of $50,000 in travel money this season primarily by staying in the Tri-Cities. The estimate is higher for Kennewick with its three schools.
Southridge athletic director Ken Murray explained the difference in terms of buses.
"I have one bus for girls soccer, one bus for volleyball. In the past, I've had to have four or five for each sport," he said, adding getting substitute teachers for coaches is another expense that will be cut drastically.
Games also do better at the gate when the opposing team just has to cross a bridge instead of driving a couple hours.
Most coaches talked about renewing rivalries that had been put on hold when the Mid-Valley dissolved in 2006 and the Big Nine expanded to a 3A/4A league with 14 teams and later 15 when Chiawana opened.
"To be honest with you, it feels more like the Big Nine now," said Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt. "We haven't played Richland in four years. We'll be able to renew the rivalry."
"We still play the same teams," Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. "It's just the conference name changed."
Other coaches talked about the challenge.
"I love it. I love it," Hanford coach Rob Oram said. "Why don't you want to play the best teams right in your own backyard? It's great. It's also incredibly challenging."
Richland coach Mike Neidhold did add a nostalgic view.
"For years, when I played as a kid here, games with the Tri-City schools were so dynamic, so important, like the Civil War every week," he said. "I remember going over to play Pasco, Kennewick and Kamiakin. When I got out of the game for a while, went to college and came back coaching, I remember being at the Lions Den and the great teams of Ed Troxel, games against Kamiakin when Bev (Craig Beverlin) was there, playing Pasco at Edgar Brown -- to have that be a league game was exciting, and now we have that again."
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; email@example.com