• July 29, 2014

Singing the praises of healthy rivalries

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Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2012 4:30 am

We are Phil Campbell.

We are the hillbillies. We are the ones who haul the hay in May.

So, let’s start chewin’.

There are hogs to be sloppin’ and cows to be tippin’.

It’s true we play a better game back on the farm.

It was crass and it was wrong. But it sure was fun.

All the students in the bleachers would drape their arms around each other and sway as they sang a song that someone made in the 1980s and had still stuck around nearly 15 years later.

It was rivalry.

Being polite didn’t matter.

My hometown, Russellville, Ala., always went a bit overboard when it came to playing our rivals.

And, although it has changed over the years, growing up, the biggest rival of the Russellville Golden Tigers were always the Phil Campbell Bobcats.

Since I have become a sports writer, I have not been back to see my alma mater play, but I am sure administrators have since nipped this song in the bud.

And that, too, is kind of sad.

Despite the poor code of conduct at times, the rivalry was good for both schools.

However, due to the size of the schools, and how the districts are aligned, the two teams do not play each other every year now, and that seems like a shame.

Sure, it was a bit over the top.

But, then again, that is how rivalries are supposed to be — just as long as they don’t get out of hand.

At least we didn’t burn the score of the game into the field. That’s what put an end to the Burnet and Marble Falls rivalry for a few years. Those two teams had played for more than 80 years before it got too wild. Luckily, being in the same 4A district from 2006-2009 brought the two schools back together.

That’s what is so great about the new 8-5A — more rivalries.

There is no way Killeen cannot play Copperas Cove every year. There is no way the Roos can’t play Belton and Temple every year. There is no way Temple won’t play Belton every year and no way the KISD schools won’t play each other.

Hopefully, they all stay 5A at the next alignment to keep this going.

It’s good for the area.

It’s good for the fans.

Temple ISD was, of course, sold out, for the Wildcats’ 50-44 win over Belton on Friday night, and the emotions could not have been higher. Not for the fans in the stands nor the players on the field.

“It’s always huge, to schedule Belton as your homecoming and then beat them,” said Temple quarterback Zach Allen. “There is nothing better. You can downplay the rivalry game, but there is so much too it.”

Hopefully, a few more games at Leo Buckley Stadium will start to sell out as well as the rivalries pick up again. But that might be a bit optimistic.

Regardless, the Belton-Temple game had everything a rivalry should.

The homecoming king was Allen. Belton had a 31-21 lead only to see Temple score 21 consecutive points and pull off a come-from-behind win.

“Rivalry games are what they are,” said Temple coach Mike Spradlin. “You can’t just throw that out the window. It is why you see things happen like they did tonight.

“The kids all know each other and have grown up around each other. It is a big win.”

Still, though, it came down to the final play, a sack that ended Belton’s hopes of pulling out its own rally when it fell down 42-31. Belton had scored two of the last three touchdowns in a back-and-forth game and then had recovered an onside kick with less than a minute to play.

Belton had a chance. It just couldn’t get it done. It fell to its rival on the road and lost to the Wildcats.

There is no shame in that. That’s the way rivalry games are. It doesn’t matter which team is favored.

The records don’t matter.

All that matters is who gets the bragging rights for one more year.

This year, that goes to Temple.

The Wildcats get to sing this year.

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