The coaches would never want to overshadow the game itself, but when Martinsburg meets Jefferson Monday in the Class AAA Region 2 baseball semi-finals it will mark the 7th consecutive season that Jefferson head coach John Lowery will match wits with John Lowery Jr. head coach at Martinsburg.
"It is always very competitive and both of us like to win," the elder Lowery said when asked if these head to head matches with his son have become easier over the years. "He and I are both very intense. Then you add to that the nature of the (Martinsburg/Jefferson) rivalry.
"At the beginning we would go to the park and it was almost like we didn’t know each other," Lowery Sr. said. "I’m kind of ashamed to admit that. We were both so focused and intent on winning. I struggled with some of those early games. At that point I was more upset that we didn’t win than I was happy that he and his team did win.
"Carrying it to that extreme wasn’t the best way to handle it," Said Lowery Sr. "But we’ve gotten through that and now I think we try to have a little more fun with it"
"We’ve grown more comfortable (with the series) over the years," John Lowery Jr. said. "It is still really competitive. Dad has won over 1,100 games and you don’t have that success without the will to win and the desire not to lose. But (the rivalry) has really helped us grow together as father and son. We obviously still try to win the game but at the same time be excited for the other team if they win.
"He is a proud father and I’m a proud son. It’s not neccessarily the greatest thing because one of us has to lose
"The reality of it is that the team that has the best players has won the game," Lowery Jr. said. "He had the better players the first three years and I think the last three years we have had the better players."
Jefferson dominated the state in baseball like no other program for over two decades. The Cougars won, at one point, 10 regional titles in 11 seasons. They captured eight state championships between 1988-2007. Jefferson has a total of nine state baseball championships in school history.
John Lowery Jr. took over the Martinsburg program prior to the 2005 season. The Bulldogs got back to the state tournament in 2008 and won it all in 2009. The state title two seasons ago was the first for Martinsburg since 1995.
Since John Jr. took over at Martinsburg, the Bulldogs and Cougars have split the last six post season matchups. Jefferson won sectional titles over Martinsburg in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Now the schools compete in separate sectionals. They’ve met in the Regional semi-finals the last three seasons with Martinsburg beating Jefferson in 2008, 2009 and 2010.