In addition to bragging rights, Friday’s Battle of the Ax football game at Bearcat Stadium will have a lot riding on it for the mayors of Sherman and Denison.
Sherman Mayor David Plyler and Denison Mayor Jared Johnson have once again wagered their outfit for an upcoming city council meeting on the outcome of the game. The mayor of the city that loses Friday’s game will wear a football jersey from the winning school during a council meeting.
“I would like to see Mayor Johnson in the maroon and white this year, and I have it on good authority that it could go our way,” Plyler said via email.
Johnson feels confident Denison’s winning streak — now at four straight years — will continue. Following Monday night’s city council meeting, Johnson joked that Denison had won so many times recently that he had Plyler’s jersey size on file. The question remained what number the Sherman mayor would wear, however.
”Our team is well coached and the kids work their tails off all year long,” Johnson said before giving a prediction for the game. “Jackets win by seven.”
Plyler had to don a black Denison Yellow Jackets jersey throughout the first council meeting after last year’s game, which saw Denison win 35-30. That was Plyler’s first Battle of the Ax game as mayor of Sherman, as he was elected about two weeks after the Bearcats 41-14 loss to Denison the year before.
“It wasn’t too awful wearing the yellow and black last year,” Plyler said. “It was like rooting for the underdog in many ways.”
While Johnson has seen four straight victories by the Yellow Jackets, a Denison loss in 2012 gives the mayor a 4-1 overall record during his tenure in office.
Despite the competitive bet between the two mayors, Johnson said it ultimately is for fun between the two communities.
”Mayor Plyler and I work well together on numerous important issues that face our region,” Johnson said. “This one game a year is an exciting rivalry that both communities take a lot of pride in. We each love our community and enjoy supporting the festivities.”
The mayor’s wager grew out of a dinner Sherman and Denison city staff and council members shared during the Texas Municipal League Conference and the history of the mayors’ wager shared by former Sherman Mayor Bill Magers and former Denison Mayor Robert Brady.
Magers and Brady had a long-standing wager tied to the game in which the losing mayor had to pose for a photo wearing the winning team’s jersey with the photo then displayed at the winning mayor’s choice of venue. Now County Judge Magers still displays his autographed picture of Brady in a Sherman No. 50 jersey in his office. When he signed the photo, Brady also wrote, “To my ‘Good Friend Bill’ as the picture indicates this was torture!”
Plyler said he remains hopeful that this is Sherman’s year to end its losing streak to Denison.
“As mayor, I would like to see the ‘Cats win the ax because it belongs in Sherman,” Plyler said. “Regardless of who wins the Battle of the Ax, we all know the ax simply belongs to Sherman High School.”
The action is set to get underway on the gridiron at 7 p.m. Friday at Bearcat Stadium in Sherman and then the payoff of the wager is likely to take place later this month.