Battle of the Bridge

South Portland Red Riots @ Portland Bulldogs

Friday, October 19, 2018 7:00 PM

Imagine pushing, shoving and clawing for every yard you can get, against the very football team that you despise more than anything, only to fall short on the scoreboard. Then, your principal and activities director cross an old bridge that separates your town from that other town, just to hand over the very trophy that you and your teammates worked so hard to attain.

Later, as you drive by that old bridge, trucks bearing your city’s name, are busy clearing snow from that bridge. Yes, one more kick in the gut. The reminders of losing one of Maine’s baddest gridiron rumbles – the Battle of the Bridge – just linger on.

While the old Million Dollar Bridge, has been replaced with the Casco Bay Bridge, Portland and South Portland no longer fight their football battles on Veteran’s Day and those city workers are no longer removing snow from a bridge because of a football game, these two rivals still hate each other.

Portland claimed original bragging rights with six straight shutouts beginning in 1907. Following tussles in 1912 and 1918, the Bulldogs and Red Riots took their disputes to the field permanently, beginning in 1924.

The Red Riots punched back from those first six losses with seven wins in the next nine clashes. That kind of outcome won’t wash with the Bulldogs again. Portland desires to be one lousy gridiron host in 2018 after dropping a 34-17 decision to the Red Riots a year ago. South Portland, meanwhile, aims to protect its 55-44-3 rivalry record on the road and keep that trophy resembling the old bridge at home.

A sellout crowd of 6,000 or more football-crazed fans is expected to fill Fitzpatrick Stadium at Portland High School on Friday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m. So grab a friend, start the tailgate early and take in the Battle of the Bridge, a black and blue football feud in Maine for more than a century.

Riverly Series Hashtags

  • #BeatPortland
  • #BeatSouthPortland

Who will win?

Learn More About the Teams

@ Portland
South Portland Red Riots Portland, ME
Loveland Tigers
Portland Bulldogs Portland, ME

South Portland

South Portland Red Riots

South Portland, ME

South Portland High School, home of the Red Riots, is located about three and a half miles southwest of Portland High School on Highway 77. Hosting 900 rowdy students that stand ready to cheer the Red Riots on to victory, South Portland will compete in Class A, Maine’s largest classification.

Red Riots coach Steve Stinson has had an up-close view of this rivalry from both sides of the football stadium, having played for Portland in the 90s. Right now, however, his allegiances are, of course, with South Portland and preparing his squad to beat up on his alma mater.

Since taking over the program in 2005, Stinson is 5-8 against the Bulldogs. His trophy case, however, does house the Battle of the Bridge trophy after the Red Riots pasted Portland 34-17 a year ago. Having accrued a 41-71 record with the Red Riots, Stinson is 1-7 in the playoffs.

South Portland, who owns a 55-44-3 record in this insane fisticuff, broke through and claimed its first victory in 1927. And the wins? They just kept coming. South Portland collected a ‘W’ in seven of the next nine contests. The Red Riots thumped their rival six straight times beginning in 1946, and took 11 of 12 from 1946-1957.

South Portland got the better of the Bulldogs on the scoreboard nine straight times beginning in 1985. Having won last year’s contest by 17 points, the Red Riots are ready to pile it on some more. Odds are this year’s contest will be as close as the three dozen or so Battle of the Bridge struggles that were decided by a touchdown or less.

Win by one point, or by 100, South Portland could care less as long as the Red Riots punish the Bulldogs and that century old Battle of the Bridge trophy stays put in the South Portland trophy case.


Portland Bulldogs

Portland, ME

Portland High School, home of the Bulldogs, is located 28 miles northeast of Kennebunkport on I-95 in Cumberland County, Maine. Hosting 1,000 students that will follow their Bulldogs to the ends of the earth, Portland will compete in Class A, Maine’s largest classification.

Bulldog head coach Jim Hartman took over for Mike Bailey in 2012 and lost in his first attempt at knocking off the Red Riots. But, success came in a flurry when Hartman guided the Bulldogs to four straight triumphs in this battle of all battles in Maine beginning in 2013. Portland held South Portland to just 20 points in those four encounters, while scoring 126 points themselves.

After posting six straight shutouts to begin this gridiron struggle so many years ago, the Bulldogs were unable to claim back to back victories over their rival until 1943 when Portland won the first of three straight contests. Then, beginning in 1971, the Bulldogs claimed seven slugfests in their next 10 tries.

Portland won seven straight Battle of the Bridge matchups, and nine of 10, starting with a 14-13 win in 2000. The Bulldogs have outscored South Portland 13 times since the turn of the century.

Hartman is responsible for taking the Bulldogs to the Class A playoffs all six years he has been the headman at Portland, including back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016. Hartman, who owns a 47-22 record with the Bulldogs, has gone 9-6 in postseason play and has Portland in a great place heading into 2018.

Hartman built the Yarmouth program before taking over the controls at Portland, and has already carried the Bulldogs to a pair of state championship contests. The next step, of course, is to win a couple of those games with the Bulldogs. However, putting a beat down on the Red Riots and regaining possession of that 100-year old Battle of the Bridge trophy, would surely put a smile on Bulldog Nation.