By JACOB LOPEZ
As the 85th Battle of the Arroyo approaches, fans and athletes of both sides of this bitter rivalry – the San Benito Greyhounds and the Harlingen Cardinals – prepare for battle on the gridiron … and apparently storefronts.
Greyhounds cheerleaders and fans, along with those on the Cardinals’ side took a Monday evening to display their team pride on the windows of El Gallito Mexican Restaurant in San Benito.
Restaurant owner Peter Salazar of San Benito said that the goal was to get both cheerleading squads and members of the communities together and show their pride, calling it a “friendly rivalry.”
“It’s a yearly tradition,” said Salazar, “and it even counts more this year because it’s a district game.”
It also shows the competitive nature between the two cities while maintaining sportsmanship. Salazar’s goal was to bring both communities together in much the same way that his eatery enjoys. “We do business with Harlingen and San Benito, and I thought it’d be a good idea to get them both together … and get everyone excited for the Battle of the Arroyo,” he said.
Fred Perez, assistant principal of San Benito High School, said, “This … is a pretty big week for both of our campuses – the Cardinal campus and the Greyhound campus …”
“El Gallito was kind enough to let us come out here and decorate it,” Perez said of the window painting. “The kids are getting fired up over this game. On the students’ behalf, the sense of excitement really brings out the best in competition for these students.”
Perez added, “Friday, at the end of the game, they’re still going to meet at the 50-yard-line; they’re still going to shake hands; and…you know, they’re [the winner] going to have bragging rights for a year.”
Greyhound cheerleader Jeena Rhiann Ruiz said, “We’ve known that we were going to be decorating the city, and trying to make our Greyhound pride come out and let everyone know that we’re here and we’re serious about the Battle of the Arroyo.”
The most exciting part for her is “cheering on the sidelines and seeing the guys play – it’s a real adrenaline rush, because … you get to see what they’ve been practicing for,” explained Ruiz.
Edna Garcia, a parent whose son plays football for the Cardinals, said, “It’s been a battle that’s been on for many, many years. They’re (El Gallito) showing their spirit for both sides. It’s been a tradition since I was in school; it’s a friendly rivalry.”
Both teams meet at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10 at Bobby Morrow Stadium in San Benito.