The Little Brown Jug sits in a trophy case near the entrance to the gym at Pearl River High School.
The Pirates brought it there with a victory at Nanuet in 2010, ending a streak of 14 victories by the Golden Knights, and kept it with a 25-12 win at home last year.
"I was at the game as a sophomore and it was the greatest thing ever watching them win it, watching them shut Nanuet out," said senior fullback/linebacker Eric Corcoran, one of Pearl River's three team captains. "Having the chance to beat them and defend it is great."
Pearl River and the Little Brown Jug will make the trip to Nanuet for this year's meeting of the neighborhood rivalry 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Both teams enter Saturday's game 1-1 and both have very different lineups from the ones that faced off a year ago, but Phil Carbone knows the rivalry changes things.
"I think we're pretty much in similar spots," Carbone said. "Obviously, it's a rivalry game. Emotion comes into play. You can throw the records and other stuff out the window. That is secondary to playing a rival. You would hope you wouldn't have to even bring it up. The mere mention of the game takes care of itself. I would assume it's the same on their end."
"I've been telling the guys it's completely different from any game they will play because it's such a heated game," Corcoran said. "It doesn't really matter about class or school size. It's two rival teams going head to head."
That brings up the challenge for the two coaches. They acknowledge the emotion of the series, but they have to keep the focus on the current lineups.
"We've been coaching them to forget the past," Pearl River Head Coach Jeff Michael said. "Don't worry about the last two years. Don't worry about the last 20 years. Worry about the here and now. No team has ever won any kind of game based on what the previous year's team has done against that same team."
That said, he and the players know this is different and the history does matter Saturday. Corcoran joked about practices being much tougher than normal this week, though admitted he still loves Jug week.
"Intellectually, everything is fine," Michael said. "We're still running the same plays. We're still watching the same amount of film. Emotionally, it's a different story. You have that cross-town rivalry with a trophy on the line. If you say Beacon or you say Hen Hud (teams on Pearl River's schedule), not that those games mean any less, but this is personal."
"I think it's fair to say, if you concern yourself with last year, you're cheating this year," Carbone said. "We're concentrating on what we are seeing now.
"From last year to this year, in theory and practically, we're two different teams."
One thing that Nanuet expected to be the same is quarterback Ryan Hanney, a returning starter who injured his shoulder early in Nanuet's season-opening victory against Putnam Valley and has not played or practiced since. As of Thursday, he had not been cleared to return to practice. Luke Panao and Matt Carney are both options to play in his place.
"It's a huge impact," Carbone said. "We have two kids who are vying for the position. It's not solidified. It can be used as a positive. It can present problems for teams to prepare for you, but it can also hurt you because you are looking for consistency out of that position."
Hanney threw for 75 yards, one touchdown and one interception in last year's game. Michael said he is preparing his team as if Hanney will play.
"He's a field general. He's the calming presence in the huddle," Michael said of the potential impact of a team losing its quarterback. "If he's not there, it's going to be a different attitude in that huddle. I think (running back Dan) Breit will step up. He seems to be a leader by example."
Breit is a key weapon for Nanuet. He broke loose for an 88-yard touchdown in the Golden Knights' 12-0 victory over Putnam Valley.
Pearl River enters the game with no questions at quarterback. Junior Chris Van Houten had a rough time in his first career start, a 28-13 loss at home to Rye two weeks ago, but he was sharp in Pearl River's 28-0 victory at Yonkers last Saturday. Van Houten completed 10 of 14 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 48 yards and another score.
"Chris is playing with a lot of confidence," said Pearl River junior Kevin Considine, who caught one of the touchdown passes. "The Rye game was not his best, but we all still believed in him. We know he's good and he came back in the Yonkers game and showed it."
Considine has shown a lot as well so far, recording five sacks, forcing a fumble and recovering two through two games. Both teams have shown they can be dominant on defense, recording shutouts in their victories.
"I've been pleased with the effort and our ability to get after things when we can," Carbone said. "I would like to see us play with our heads, thinking-wise. We have to recognize some things."
Michael said defensive coordinator Pat Aris challenged the team to shut out Yonkers before the game.
"(The shutout) means everything," Considine said. "They weren't able to score on us. It's a credit to all 11 guys. It means every guy is doing his job."
Nanuet had that week one, but comes into this game after a tough, 41-13 loss at Lourdes. Pearl River comes in off a victory, but the rivalry provides additional focus for both teams.
"It's everything. It's the biggest game of the year," Pearl River junior Kevin Considine said. "You know if you win, you will have that for the next year. If you win as seniors, that's it for the rest of your life. You can say we won the Jug as seniors."
Battle for the Little Brown Jug
- Game: Pearl River (1-1) at Nanuet (1-1)
- When, Where: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Nanuet High School
- Pearl River 2012 game results: Lost to Rye, 28-13; Defeated Yonkers, 28-0
- Nanuet 2012 game results: Defeated Putnam Valley, 12-0; Lost to Lourdes, 41-13
- Series: Nanuet leads, 30-15-1
- Last year's result: Pearl River won, 25-12
Check back with Patch for more on the battle for the Little Brown Jug