Killeen v Harker Heights

Killeen head coach Neil Searcy claps from the sideline during a game against Harker Heights at Leo Buckley Stadium.

An old rivalry returns to Leo Buckley Stadium tonight as Killeen plays Temple for the first time since 2013.

For many area residents, this is a nostalgic game dating back decades as the original area rivalry.

Since the University Intercollegiate League began sanctioning state championship football games in 1920, the Wildcats qualified for the postseason 43 times, and since 1922, Temple has been eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual state champion 16 times and ousted by the eventual state runner-up on seven other occasions, including in 2003 (The Woodlands) and 2007 (Pflugerville).

The Kangaroos won their first and only state football championship in 1991, when Temple defeated Killeen in district competition.

The Wildcats’ last state championship came the following year in 1992 after they lost to Killeen in district play.

Temple leads the all-time series between the two 35-13-1, dating back to the first time these two teams played in 1956. In 1993, the Wildcats beat the Kangaroos twice — once in the regular season and again in the playoffs.

In the last 20 years, the Kangaroos and the Wildcats have faced each other in district competition just six times, splitting the series with Killeen winning in 1998, 2000 and 2001, while Temple won in 1999, 2012 and 2013.

Since being moved up to Class 6A in February, the Wildcats experienced a smooth transition, sitting atop the District 12-6A standings with an unblemished 5-0, 3-0 record.

Temple entered the season with the fourth most wins in state history, trailing only Highland Park, Amarillo and Plano.

The Wildcats come into tonight’s matchup following a 58-55 victory against Belton in triple-overtime at home Friday.

Despite a district-opening loss at home against Waco Midway, the Kangaroos (4-2, 3-1) are thriving thanks to impressive performances from their young offensive linemen, and they will look to build off last week’s 25-21 comeback win against Shoemaker.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. | 254-501-7562

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