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Sisters cheer on both teams in North-East rivalry

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Sarah and Rissa Towsley, two Columbus, Ind. high schoolers, are on the cheer squads for North and East High Schools, respectively.
Sarah and Rissa Towsley, two Columbus, Ind. high schoolers, are on the cheer squads for North and East High Schools, respectively.

Sibling rivalries can be intense, but so can the one between Columbus North and Columbus East high school football teams.

What happens when they are combined?

One Columbus area family will find out tonight when the much-anticipated crosstown rivalry match kicks off at 7 p.m.


Sarah Towsley is a sophomore at Columbus North High School and a member of the junior varsity cheerleading team. Her younger sister, Rissa Towsley, attends Columbus East High School and cheers on the freshman team.

The girls live in Hope but attended St. Bartholomew Catholic School through eighth grade, and their parents wanted to let them choose the high school they would like to attend. They just happened to decide on two schools with a 42-year history of competition.

“It’s really just a friendly rivalry between two different schools,” Sarah Towsley said. “It’s fun to see who wins.”

The sisters are close, but they still bicker about which school and which football team is better.

Since joining the cheerleading team at East, Rissa Towsley has been pulling the football card to win arguments against her sister. Any time Sarah Towsley brags about North — about their science labs or band program — Rissa Towsley brings up the fact that East won the state football championship last year.

Although her daughters called the rivalry friendly, mother Candy Towsley has been careful not to pledge an allegiance to either team.

She has not figured out which side of the field she will sit on tonight, and she is carefully planning her outfit so it includes an equal amount of blue and orange. She was thinking about creating a “house divided” T-shirt.

The sisters do have one thing in common. They both are excited to cheer for the big game tonight.

Sarah Towsley said it is the highlight of the year for the cheerleading squad.

“The feeling is different from any other game,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure, but it is more fun than any other game.”

Although it is Rissa Towsley’s first time attending the game as a student and a cheerleader, she knows what to expect.

“It’s the biggest event in sports all year,” she said. “People will come out for the North-East game and not come out again. Everyone wants to be involved.”

It has been that way since 1972 when Columbus High School split into two schools, although attendance has grown by thousands over the years.

It’s been billed as the Super Bowl of Columbus, and it was aired on ESPNU in 2011 when North took the victory, 45-40.

East took the lead in the series 22-21 with last year’s win, but could North tie it back up again tonight?

Sarah Towsley thinks so. Rissa Towsley does not.

Their mother refused to make any predictions.

“We’re just lucky to live in a town with so many great options and schools,” Candy Towsley said.

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