For some, the game was just a chance to see former teammates and renew old friendships. For others, the competitive fires still burn, andthey want to win.
But for all of the 70 players who participated in Friday's Centennial/Oakland Mills Alumni Challenge at Oakland Mills, the game added up to fun.
It also was a chance to raise money and donate some food to the homeless.
Friday's third-annual event pitted two of the county's fiercest soccer powers. Oakland Mills has won seven state titles, Centennial has won four.
But the alumni game is played mainly with goodwill, respect and a lot of laughter.
The two coaches, Bill Stara of Centennial and Don Shea of Oakland Mills, have been best friends for years, so they wouldn't want it any other way.
The two teams have exchanged a Friendship Cup since 1988, given to the winner of the regular season game between the schools, and it changes hands now during the alumni game. Centennial won it this year.
Considering the highly competitive nature of the athletes, it's somewhat surprising that the game still produces as much laughter and kidding between the teams, since Oakland Mills has now won all three games. Friday's contest ended 3-1 in the Scorpions' favor.
Since the players range in age from 19 to 34, not everybody has the same sleek figures they did in high school, and the added poundage becomes a target for barbs.
The term "beached whale" was thrown around a couple times.
And since many are not in playing shape, pleas for oxygen went up from timeto time.
But in general, the 150 or more fans saw some pretty good soccer.
Big-name players from Oakland Mills, such as Darryl Gee,Dante Washington, Malcolm Gillian, Junior Armstrong, Chris Love and Brian Boussy, gave the Scorpions a decided edge.
Washington and Love both scored goals for Oakland Mills, along with Sean Peay.
Washington is a standout striker for Radford University, and Love plays for the University of Hartford.
"They win every year, because they have more college players, and some of our best players can't be here," said 24-year-old Dave Tootle, Centennial's sweeper.
Tootle is asales representative in the Columbia area who still plays organized soccer, so he was a little less winded than most players his age.
David Rosenstein, a Russian studies major at Brown University and a great defender on Centennial's state championship team of 1987, made abrilliant sliding tackle at one point in the game. Later on he said:"We lose because they get a better turnout."
Centennial would like to see the likes of Matt Kern, Reid Storch and Mike Rotsel return. They might help even things up.
Centennial's Ryan Thomas, who alsoplayed for Hartford this season, was on the opposite side of the field from Hartford teammate and Oakland Mills grad Chris Love Friday, and Thomas was hungry for victory.
"It starts out as fun, but then it turns serious," Thomas said. "We're competitive, so we play to win."
But for players like Centennial's Doug Majewski -- an analyst for the Internal Revenue Service, Radford graduate and one-time countyPlayer of the Year who was recently married -- the charm of the gameis just to see everybody.
Oakland Mills' Chris Weilminster, who took a lot of kidding about his weight, is 25 and leases shopping centers for a living. He's amazed at the turnout of spectators.
"You've got more fans at this than you get at some high school games," he said.
Oakland Mills had a turnout of 40 players and Centennial attracted 30. Every 10 minutes a new team was substituted for both sides.And after two hours of action, some of the players were dragging.
"It's all for a good cause, and we had a pretty good turnout today,"Stara said.
"It's a nice tradition to have between the two schools," said Shea, who started a similar game that still goes on at Elkton High, where he formerly coached.
Friday's game's sponsors included Princeton Sports, 1st National Bank and Simply Soccer.