Although the "Battle of the Axe" is known for its fierce rivalry on the gridiron, the competition between Denison and Sherman has evolved into an opportunity for students to uplift their communities off the field. Both high schools have organized a canned food drive and blood drive to help community members in need.

Although the "Battle of the Axe" is known for its fierce rivalry on the gridiron, the competition between Denison and Sherman has evolved into an opportunity for students to uplift their communities off the field. Both high schools have organized a canned food drive and blood drive to help community members in need.


For over 15 years, the Sherman High School and Denison High School student councils have been holding a canned food drive to give donations to local organizations. Each high school has reached out to younger campuses throughout the districts to help collect cans.


"I know we’re one of the oldest rivalries in Texas but even in this rivalry, we’re still doing something good for someone else," Emily Estes, SHS student council president, said. "It’s to forget the rivalry for a little bit, bond with each other and remember we are all Texans together."


SHS collected about 15,000 cans last year and the student council hopes to match or exceed that total, Estes said. It may be a hard number to reach but she said it’s worth the challenge to help people in the community. SHS will be donating its canned goods to Share Ministries, MasterKey Ministries and "Share - Taking it to the Streets" in Sherman.


"It’s cool to have a whole student body, not just at the high school, to give back to the community," Jake Decker, leadership chair of community service at SHS, said. "The community puts a lot into the schools and I feel like doing this drive helps us give back to the community."


The DHS student council with be donating its canned goods to Helping Hands in Denison. When asked how much they plan to collect, DHS student council adviser Jamie Dugan said they prefer to keep their numbers a secret because it’s still a fun competition that Denison wants to win. She said DHS students are proud to have the title from last year.


Because Helping Hands only has two official canned food drives a year, Dugan said it is important for people to know the food pantry needs food all year and she encourages people to donate throughout the year.


"It’s a friendly competition but we raise thousands of cans for our communities," Dugan said. "The thing about Denison is that a lot of these kids have been hungry and I think it makes a huge difference in their willingness to participate in the food drive. The kids understand hunger on a personal level so they are willing to help other people out."


DHS Student Council President Dayla Johnson said she considers the canned food drive an "eye-opening" experience. When Johnson visited elementary campuses to ask for donations, she said she felt like younger students understood the importance of donating canned goods for the drive.


"I told them that there are real serious problems in this world where people don’t get the food they need and don’t know when their next meal is," Johnson said. "This friendly competition between Sherman and Denison goes toward a better cause that maybe not everyone’s eyes are open to and it goes beyond Battle of the Axe week."


The schools are taking can donations through Friday and the winner will be announced at the game.


Sherman and Denison have also been facing each other in another competition this year. For the first time, the DHS and SHS band booster clubs are holding a blood drive at the Texoma Regional Blood Center to see who can receive the most votes from donors.


"Everybody that comes in and is able to donate gets a vote," Francis Campbell, TRBC director of donor resources, said. "If there are people who aren’t able to donate, we still give them the option of getting a shirt by giving a $10 donation to the blood center."


Being a consistent blood donor, DHS band Booster Club President Chip South said he thought it would be a great idea to create an annual competition between the band programs. After a few phone calls, both schools joined together for the blood drive.


"The main rivalry is on the football field but it’s another opportunity to get the community on board and to do a whole lot of good out of this one long-standing rivalry," Bruce Maxwell, SHS band booster club president, said. "It’s not about Sherman and it’s not about Denison but it’s about helping other people."


Since Oct. 3, Campbell said the TRBC has receive 163 donations from Bearcat and Yellow Jacket fans. She said she expects several more to come in before the votes have to be counted on Friday.


"Our entire community is so small and they always come out whenever we need them," Campbell said. "We can see it make an impact … It’s a great way to support both our schools and our blood supply in the community."