DIVIDED LOYALTY: Yoakum , Cuero natives ponder who to cheer for during annual football rivalry

Sonny Long

Oct. 14, 2010 at 5:14 a.m.

The back of a T-shirt designed especially for the Yoakum vs. Cuero football game. It is available at Embroidery Express in Yoakum.

The back of a T-shirt designed especially for the Yoakum vs. Cuero football game. It is available at Embroidery Express in Yoakum.

"Once a Gobbler, always a Gobbler."

Mike Reinhardt, a 1968 graduate of Cuero High School who now lives and works in Yoakum, didn't hesitate when asked where his loyalty will be Friday when Cuero and Yoakum square off in football for the 100th time.

Reinhardt, who played football in high school, has lived in Yoakum "about 30 years."

"I still root for the Gobblers," he said. "It was harder when my daughters were cheerleaders, but once a Gobbler..."

Dennis Jemelka, a 1979 Yoakum grad who lives and works in Cuero, understands where Reinhardt is coming from.

"When my boys played for Cuero, I pulled for Cuero," said the former Bulldog tight end who has lived in Cuero for 16 years. "There were times I sat on both sides to meet and talk with family and friends."

Jemelka has fond memories of the rivalry on the field. The 1977 Bulldogs, which advanced to the state quarterfinals in Austin, defeated Cuero. In 1978, the teams tied.

Jemelka is married to the former Dawn Klaevemann, the valedictorian of her 1982 Cuero High School class. "Now, it's kind of a house-divided situation," Jemelka said.

Linda Colman, a 1972 graduate of Yoakum who has been on the faculty at Cuero High School for 23 years, cheers for both Bulldogs and Gobblers.

"I root for any cousin, friend's child or student who is on the field. I want all the players, band members, cheerleaders, mascots and fans to enjoy the experience of competition. I hope for it to be a good game where no one gets injured," said the former member of the Bulldog band.

"I always attend the game and sit in different places. I have even sat on one side during the first half and one side during the second half," Colman said. "When my children were involved, I sat on the Yoakum side as they all attended Yoakum schools."

James Frels, a 1963 Cuero graduate who retired from First State Bank in Yoakum in 2003 after logging 40 years there, pulls for the Bulldogs when the two schools clash.

"I've been here that long. I'm a Yoakumite," said the former member of the Gobbler marching band who now works as a courier for Yoakum Community Hospital.

A more recent graduate is Randall Malik, executive director of the Cuero Development Corporation.

The 2004 Yoakum High graduate played wide receiver, defensive back and returned punts for the Bulldogs.

"My sister is a varsity cheerleader for Yoakum, which means I will be wearing a green shirt, but will be wearing a blue button with her picture on it," Malik said. "I will probably sit on the Cuero side, but I will visit back and forth between the two sides."

Malik said his memories of the clashes between the two schools relate to the towns as a whole.

"More than anything I simply remember how much this game means to both communities," he said.



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