It began with three Dundalk High seniors, two weeks before school began in Baltimore County.
According to Dundalk principal Dr. Kim Stephanic, the boys - starters on the Owls' soccer team - went over to neighborhood rival Patapsco during the preseason and painted the Patriots' football goal posts Dundalk green and gold.
Not to be outdone, five Patapsco players retaliated a few days later, Stephanic said.
Not only did the Patriots paint Dundalk's goal posts red and blue - Patapsco's colors - but they painted the Owls' field as well, incriminating themselves in the process.
"They spray-painted their jersey numbers and their real names right on the grass," said Stephanic. "That's like the kid who scribbles his name on his desk, then denies it when the teacher asks who did it."
Stephanic quickly dispatched Dundalk's players to repaint the goal posts from both schools, and Dundalk's grounds crews mowed the paint off its field.
The players' additional punishment is nothing to chuckle about: The eight perpetrators will miss the schools' scheduled Oct. 2 game against each other.
Patapsco assistant coach Jeff Chopper said the five Patriots players were benched for games against Sparrows Point (a 2-2 tie) and McDonogh (a 10-0 loss).
"They know it was a dumb thing to do, and it's definitely a tough lesson learned," Chopper said. "They have to let the soccer stay on the field."