Think Out Loud

Coos Bay and North Bend high schools face off in rivalry game

By Sage Van Wing (OPB)
Sept. 16, 2022 3:42 p.m. Updated: Sept. 16, 2022 9:36 p.m.

Broadcast: Friday, Sept. 16

One of Oregon’s longest-running high school football rivalries will be played tonight at Coos Bay’s high school. The Marshfield Pirates will attempt to repeat last year’s win over the North Bend Bulldogs. Matt Jarvis has called over 20 of these rivalry games over the years. He’s the Voice of the Pirates for KMHS radio, and the play by play announcer for many high school sports games throughout the region and the state. We talk to Jarvis about tonight’s game and his career.


Note: The following transcript was created by a computer and edited by a volunteer.

Dave Miller: This is Think Out Loud on OPB. I’m Dave Miller. We end today with the big local rivalry. Marshfield High School here in Coos Bay and North Bend High School just a little bit up the road, have been locked in a perpetual struggle for bragging rights for 115 years. This year’s football version of that struggle is tonight at seven pm. The Marshfield Pirates are gonna take on the North Bend Bulldogs at home. Matt Jarvis will be there and he’ll bring the action to life for anyone who is not there. He is the voice of the Pirates for KMHS radio. He’s on play-by-play and announcing for countless high school sporting events throughout the region and the state for half a century. Matt Jarvis, it’s true, right? Matt Jarvis, welcome.

Matt Jarvis: . . . so old! [laughing]

Miller: No, you started when you were so young. When did you first start?

Jarvis: High school in Newport doing the high school news on KNPT my junior and senior year, and just kind of continued it on.

Miller: Why do you keep doing it?

Jarvis: Oh, I had a love for radio. I’m 68 now. Back in the days when I was growing up in the sixties, we only had black and white tv with three channels on it. So you watched a little bit, but you listen to the local radio station a lot and I really enjoyed doing that. Listened to the disc jockeys, and especially at Newport. We had Bob Spangler, legendary radio sportscaster, and he did all the Newport Cubs stuff. And so I was listening to him a lot and I really liked it, it just caught me somehow. It caught me.

Miller: I don’t know that you could count the number of games, matches, meets, events, championships, you’ve done over half a century between all these different sports. But I’m wondering, given that you’ve done so much, do you still get excited for a game like tonight’s?

Jarvis: Yes. And that’s the best part. You get to sit down and watch the competition, you get to see the kids play. And I really like the stuff that goes on around the outside, as well as the stuff that’s going on inside of the game. But yeah, it’s still a lot of fun there. There’s a lot to it. And when I do a broadcast, it’s like an artist. I’m trying to paint a picture, and if I can paint that picture and provide that enthusiasm or atmosphere, good. That’s the whole goal. There’s a charge right there.

Miller: What is the scene like at these games? You said, even outside the stadium, you can feel it. What do you see?

Jarvis: Just a lot of people mingling around. It’s fun, because you’ll get the graduates in their old letterman’s jackets, the ones who can still wear them.

MIller: You mean like people from 30 years ago, 40 years ago?

Jarvis: Oh sure. Even further back if they can. Yeah, they’ll be here, and they come in. Their letterman jackets. Yeah, sure. And their color, they’ll have the colors, and if they don’t have the letterman jackets and the like, and the hats and the buttons, and the whole kit.

Miller: From both sides?

Jarvis: Both sides, yes. And nice thing now, down here at Pete Susick Stadium, is we have our south side with a roof on it to like, so we can have opposing team on that side from us, rather than the same grandstand. So that kind of adds to it. All their fans gonna sit behind them and cheer, and all our fans are behind our team and cheering. That’s special.

Miller: It’s free for Marshfield students to go to the game today. And North Bend students with student ID. Student body ID, they can get in for $1. That’s the way it always is?

Jarvis: Yes.

Miller: And If it’s in North Bend, Marshall students have to pay a dollar to get in?

Jarvis: I’m not sure. I never have to pay. [Both laughing]

Miler: Yeah, you got a good deal. So I imagine that you have done all kinds of versions of rivalry games including and up to state championships of various kinds. What makes this particular rivalry special?


Jarvis: Well. you mentioned up to a hundred and plus years that this has been going on.

Miller: We heard from Steve Greif that there have been 144 for football games between these two schools, because some years they did more than did it more than once, but it’s been going on 115 years. So the time alone is a big part of it for you?

Jarvis: I would think so. I mean that is just incredible. I’ve been around a lot of rivalries. I was born in Myrtle Point. We had the Myrtle Point-Coquille rivalry nine miles apart, all the time. Raised up in Newport, we had the Newport-Toledo rivalry six miles apart all the time. But this thing just blows them out of the water. This is a peninsula and both these towns are on this peninsula. So as you said, bragging rights, you bet! This is it for a whole year, and they all use it for a whole year.

Miller: Well, so this is the end then of the year where Marshfield could brag about their trouncing last year of North Bend, 55 to 6. That’s how Marshfield won before they won the state championship. What are you expecting this year?

Jarvis: Oh boy, I’m really lousy at predictions on, on the games. I can kind of feel it both ways. And I think both these teams are pretty evenly matched. I just don’t know, to be honest with you. I’m curious to find out myself when it kicks off, we’re gonna see.

Miller: Well, it says something. If last year was so uneven, and Marshfield actually won the state championship, how many of those players have returned?

Jarvis: We have some alignment back, but we lost a lot of special skill kids off that team. Not as many back this year as we’d like to see with that experience.

So we are young. There’s a sophomore quarterback in fact starting for Marshfield out there. But you mentioned that game last year and the score last year. Well, you can just roll it back one more notches from that to the year 2016 when North Bend won the state championship, and they gave us a nice little spanking too. So it just kind of goes up and down, ebbs and flows.

Miller: So even though historically Marshfield has been a much bigger school, this rivalry has been relatively even?

Jarvis: I’d say so. I was trying to look that up and I couldn’t. Steve Greif, as you mentioned, would be the historical man about all of that. But I would think so. Marshfield had a very nice long run for quite a while, and North Bend had a great run here lately. So I’m thinking it’s kind of close, and more to even, than anything else.

Miller: I guess it’s not really a fun rivalry if one team is always winning too.

Jarvis: Depends which team you’re on [laughs], ask Oregon State!

Miller: Well, that line, it does make me wonder how you think about your role here. There’s a phrase for play-by-play announcers, that you can be a homer, the person where you can just hear their rooting, as they’re calling a game. And it’s something that I think most fans, within reason, they like that, because they don’t exactly want the person who is calling the games for their beloved team, to not care about their beloved team. There’s also an idea that you can take it too far. How do you think about being a fan of the teams that you’re covering?

Jarvis: That’s a good question. And it’s a careful balancing act. I think I’ve got it down because I’m a fan of the game. And even though here in the Bay area, mostly athletes know I’m the voice of the Pirates, I like the North Bend kids. I get along with a lot of them, a lot of friendly kids, even the coaching staffs over there. I like all of them as well too.

Miller: You know them?

Jarvis: Oh yes! And so you can go too far as a homer. I don’t do that. I’m old school radio, the game is on the field. Now, I might use a couple inflections here and there, if something really goes good for us, I might go up a little bit more and I kind of go down if it’s not kind of going good for us. And I will not pick on the officials. I might say ‘well’, and then I’ll follow with ‘at least he’s in a better position than I am to call that’.

Miller: And you’ll let the audience make up their mind about those subtle inflections?

Jarvis: You’re right, if you’re a homer all the way, it gets a little wearing, gets quite a bit wearing, and there’s other fans with all the internet and everything else these days listening in. So why should I offend them? Call the game and let the players dictate what it is.

Miller: It’s clear to me and I think it’s clear to anybody listening to you, how much you love doing this. But I’ve also heard you say that this is going to be your last year for this game. Why?

Jarvis: That’s a tough one. Well, health. That’s one. Fifty years, that’s pretty good. There’s gotta be some other voices out there, and they need an opportunity to come up like I got. So I don’t wanna crawl out of the booth. I don’t want to be asked to leave the booth. I wanna walk out. So it’s this year, better than next year, or the next year. I don’t know. I just know 50 years is pretty good. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of kids, I’ve announced a lot of kids. When I go to other high schools now, and I go to a lot, and since I signed off on being the announcer for the state track meet this spring, and when I go to other schools, in the walls, the gyms, track records and I look at the names, I announced every one of them, and as I say, somebody else needs to be able to do this now. So that’s kind of where I’m at. I’m just kind of fading out. I stopped the track and field in spring. This fall, in November, cross country, that would be the last. I started in ‘72, 50 years there, that’s fine. And here, same thing. That’s a lot of road work for me. I’m getting tired for that part too. But when I get to the game, love it, love it. But driving home late at night, getting there. The hot weather and hours, and that’s a lot. It’s tough. It’s tough, Dave. I’d like to stay. Part of me, but I know it’s time. It’s time.

Miller: Matt Jarvis, it was a real pleasure talking to you. Thank you.

Jarvis: Thank you.

Miller: Matt Jarvis is the voice of the Pirates. He is a play-by-play announcer for KMHS. And you can hear him tonight calling for maybe the last time, the football game here between Marshfield High School and North Bend High School. I really want to thank everybody here at the high school and in the community who has been so welcoming. It has been a really special week for all of us, in Oregon’s Bay area, and it’s only been possible because so many people have opened doors to us and let us learn a little bit more about this region, that probably doesn’t get talked about enough. So thank you everybody. I really look forward to the next time we take this show on the road. Hopefully we won’t let as much time go by and we won’t have another brand new pandemic to prevent us from traveling like this.

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