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WVU fans find refuge in Terps territory

Posted: 8:42 PM, Sep 24, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-24 20:42:50-04

The Maryland Terrapins will face off against the West Virginia Mountaineers in football on Saturday, but not everyone in and around Charm City will be cheering for the Terps.

Because the two schools are relatively close together, it's a game that always generates excitement for fans of both teams. On Saturday there will be plenty of people rooting for the home team, but Baltimore is also housing more favor for West Virginia University than one might expect.

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"There's a large amount of young [West Virginia] alumni in Baltimore City," John Leonard, owner of Don't Know Tavern in Baltimore, said.

While almost any sports bar will do for Baltimore Terps fans on a game day, Leonard's bar aims to be a home-away-from-home for the Mountaineers.

"We're the official sponsor of the Baltimore, West Virginia alumni chapter," Leonard said.

When the Terps and the Mountaineers are playing against each other, there's always a little extra excitement at Don't Know Tavern, according to Leonard.

"West Virginia people are very loyal and passionate to their university, so they come out and they love their school," Leonard said.

Leonard explained there's always a great atmosphere on game days, with everyone decked out in their WVU gear to cheer on the team. 

"It's crazy. Depending on, I guess, who they're playing. If it's a big game it gets crazier," Leonard said.

Saturday qualifies as one of those bigger games because of the history and proximity. It's a rivalry that both teams acknowledge.

"It takes on a sense of personal pride. Beyond how I feel about it, this is a big game to the state, because it’s a border rivalry. It’s a big game for our university. Our players know how important it is. They’re extremely excited about it, and they can’t wait to get out there.," West Virginia's offensive line coach Ron Crook said at a recent media session .

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall also talked about the history between the two teams this week.

"It’s a big opportunity because it's the next team that we're playing...there's a history between the schools playing each other for a number of years, we're bordering states, there are implications from recruiting as well, so it’s a big game because it’s the next one on the schedule. The guys are looking forward to it and we know that they have an outstanding football team there and we're going to have to play well in order to win," Edsall said .

For Leonard, there's even a bit of a rivalry element within his own family.

"My sister actually has two degrees from University of Maryland and my dad taught there," Leonard said.

He said his dad and sister weren't initially on board with his bar's sports allegiance.

"They weren't thrilled about that," Leonard said.

It's something he shrugs off.

"Go Mountaineers," Leonard said, flashing a grin.