Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

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Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

The Start of the Axe

A breakdown of the Battle of the Axe’s history and its founder
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The deafening roar of the crowd echoes across the stadium, as the Marauders offense drives down the field. Play by play, the Lewisville defense is pushed back, until they’re only a handful of yards away from the end zone. Third and goal, the ball is snapped to junior quarterback Cole Welliver as a wave of defenders begin to chase after him. Running to his right, he sees junior tight end Aidan Grummer. The ball barrelling toward him, Grummer catches it close to his chest in the endzone. Horns blare as teammates celebrate their touchdown with high fives. Enthusiastic cheers and disappointed groans simultaneously erupt from the stands. 

The intense annual Battle of the Axe ended in a 17-14 loss after a game-sealing 31 yard field goal from Lewisville kicker senior Freddy Joya. Though Marcus lost, it was hard to miss the excitement and energy among the two schools. 

To some, it may seem silly. Battling over an axe that anyone can buy at a hardware store. But for the community, it’s a symbol containing the rich history of the 36-year-long competition.

While many know the rivalry of the “Battle of the Axe,” not many remember the man that started it all — Jesse Jones.

***

Sherman, Texas, nicknamed “The Athens of Texas,” is a small, quiet town about an hour away from Flower Mound. The town is known for its champion bass fishing, sailing and hiking. But most famously, it’s the home to the first Battle of the Ax. Jesse was born on August 13, 1936 in Melissa, Texas and attended Sherman High School, where he witnessed the original rivalry that began in 1901. 

A rivalry game that drew in packed opposing crowds of Denison yellow and Sherman maroon typically sold out in 13 minutes. A rivalry where players competed for victory and honor. A rivalry named The Battle of the Ax, where the winner brings home an actual weapon that carries a weight heavier than its handle and blade. The weight of 122 years of tradition, competition and pride. 

Since this game is 85 years older than LISD’s, it’s the oldest high football rivalry in the state.

His high school tradition inspired Jesse to meet with Marcus and Lewisville’s first principals, Larry Sigler and Doug Killough to create the Battle of the Axe in his new hometown.

Lewisville was the first high school that opened in the district in 1897. Marcus was the second, opening in 1981. Jesse noticed an immediate rivalry between the two schools. 

The first step was to make the infamous axe. Created by LHS shop students and aided by shop teacher Garland Kimmel, the trophy looks just like a standard axe, but when carefully examined, the year of 1986 is engraved.

Jesse’s wife and retired Marcus English teacher, Nancy Jones believes that the axe adds even more excitement and a sense of honor for the schools.

“He installed the axe as something to make the game even more special,” she said.

The Battle of the Axe has also been memorable for students and staff.

For coach Preston Jund, it’s made an impact on his entire career. He coached the defensive line at Lewisville for five years and has continued to work with defense after transferring to Marcus in 2012. 

Having instructed both teams, Jund has seen the Battle of the Axe leave long-lasting impacts on players.

“That trophy definitely produces a sense of pride within the young men,” Jund said. “…It’s a big part of what builds school spirit around our sport.”

Senior defense/running back Jake Ballard believes that the event is a great way to help the team perform to the best of their abilities.

“Coaches look forward to playing the game and hopefully call it their best,” Ballard said. “The players look to do the same.”

***

Their first child, K. Kaye Nyquist now serves as LISD’s Central Zone Secretary. She fondly remembers the feeling of being at the Battle of the Axe with her father and children. 

“My daughter teaches at [Lewisville High School],” Nyquist said. “So when she tells her kids that her grandpa’s the one who started it, they’re always like “No he wasn’t.”.”

Jesse retired from his job as a banker at North Texas Bank to teach at Marcus and work alongside his wife. He worked as a substitute teacher and special education aide for five years before retiring in 2000.

“His heart was at Marcus for sure,” K. Kaye said.

Jesse passed away in 2009, but his tradition continues to be a part of the two school’s soul and pride.

“He was very loving and loved his family and his job,” Nancy said. “He was just a super individual.”

After his passing, his legacy still remains. The Battle of the Axe produces exciting games each year, but it all began with Jesse’s own passion and love that he poured into the game.

“I hoped it would be something very special because it was always special in Sherman,” Ms. Jones said. “I’m so glad that it has been something that has been carried on.”

***

*This story was originally written in 2022.

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About the Contributor
Lex Paull, Online Editor
Lex (she/her) is Online Editor and is super excited for her second year on staff. When she’s not working she loves to binge-watch horror movies and listen to music 24/7.

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