Sue Repetti had one fear when she and husband Cliff moved to Upper Township.
Their kids would attend Ocean City High School.
“We were like, ‘Wait a second. How are we going to pull that one off?’” Sue said.
Sue is a 1991 Mainland Regional graduate, one of the best athletes in Mainland history, a former Mustangs coach and now a math teacher at the Linwood school.
Mainland just happens to be Ocean City’s biggest rival.
Sue’s fears came true and then some.
Her son, Joe, is the Red Raiders’ starting quarterback. Ocean City (6-1) plays at Mainland (7-0) 6 p.m. Friday in one of the season’s most anticipated games.
“It was difficult putting on Ocean City stuff for the first couple of games,” Sue said, “but you get used to it.”
It’s a big deal when Mainland and Ocean City meet in any sport. It’s a bigger deal when it happens in football.
Friday is the easily the most important football matchup between the schools since they met in the first round of the 2000 South Jersey Group III playoffs, with Ocean City winning 20-0.
Both teams are bound for the Group IV playoffs this season. Ocean City will clinch the West Jersey Football League Independence Division title with a win. Mainland will clinch at least a division tie with a victory.
Joe is a big reason for Ocean City’s success. He’s completed 62 of 97 passes for 1,001 and 15 touchdowns.
He was raised in Mainland’s green and white. Sue coached the Mainland girls basketball team from 2007-2012. Members of those teams were Joe’s first babysitters.
“I grew up a Mainland fan,” he said, “until I was about 10 or so. I would always have Mainland shirts. I would go to Mainland basketball practices. But now it’s all Ocean City Red Raiders.”
Sue currently teaches a few of the Mainland players.
“She always comes home with stories about them talking about the games and talking about sacking me,” Joe said with a laugh.
Each week, one Mainland player writes the Mustangs record in big numbers on the board in Sue’s class.
Sue has a big picture of her family dressed in Ocean City red hanging in her class.
“I’m jawing with my students about the game,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Sue’s students think she’s impartial. Here’s a newsflash — she’ll be wearing red and sitting on the Ocean City side Friday.
The Repetti family’s connection to Mainland Regional doesn’t end with Sue. Cliff was fraternity brothers with Mainland coach Chuck Smith at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. The two were roommates after graduating.
“It’s a perfect full circle with the whole thing,” Sue said.
The Repettis are far from the only family whose lives are intertwined with Mainland and Ocean City. Ocean City coach Kevin Smith is a 1987 Mainland graduate. Ocean City tight end and linebacker Brad Jamison is the son of Mainland teacher and track and field coach Tom Jamison.
These connections make the rivalry. They are what makes high school sports special. These type of links usually aren’t found on the college and professional level.
Mainland and Ocean City are neighbors, and at its core, high school sports is all about proving yourself the best on your block. That is what Friday night is about.
“You know everybody on the other side of the ball,” Joe said. “You’re going against guys you’ve known since you were young. You played other sports with them. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. We’re going to put on a show.”
Michael McGarry’s Must Win column appears Fridays in The Press.