91 Years of Rivalry

Each year, students from Burlingame High School and San Mateo High School gather to witness the Little Big Game, the historic matchup between the two schools’ rival football teams. The game, along with other events, highlights the Burlingame-San Mateo rivalry.

 The Burlingame Panthers and the San Mateo Bearcats compete in the 2017 annual Little Big Game.

The Burlingame Panthers and the San Mateo Bearcats compete in the 2017 annual Little Big Game.

This is one of the oldest high school rivalries in the Bay Area. It started back in 1923 when the SMUHSD created the San Mateo High School: Burlingame Branch in order to ease congestion at San Mateo High School, originally located on Baldwin Avenue. The two schools functioned as one, with the same sports teams and band. Eventually, the population of the Burlingame Branch grew to its intended capacity. Four years later, a bond was issued to build a new San Mateo High School, which is the one that still stands today, allowing the Burlingame Branch to be established as a separate school under the name Burlingame High School in 1927.
As soon as the two schools split, the rivalry that has lasted for 91 years started. The first Little Big Game, named after the Cal-Stanford football game, was hosted that year and won by the Panthers 7-6. Throughout the years, thousands of students have been through the halls of San Mateo and Burlingame and taken part in activities relating to the rivalry. Not only is football involved in the Little Big Game, but programs such as cheer, leadership and band are as well.

“The leadership programs bring out their spirit game 100 percent during the games, which makes it a fun time,” San Mateo sophomore Edward Huang said.

San Mateo band director Attilio Tributi has been teaching since 1992, directing the San Mateo Band through 25 Little Big Games.

“The [San Mateo and Burlingame] bands manifest themselves one day a year, during the [Little Big Game],” Tributi said. “I think that the [rivalry] is a fair one and healthy for [the communities] of both schools.”

The next Little Big Game will take place at Burlingame on Saturday Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’re gonna beat them [this year],” Burlingame sophomore Ilan Rosenbaum said.

Be sure to come out and support the Panthers during the game and celebrate 91 years of rivalry.

Posted on October 31, 2018 .