"The Game of the Year" - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Lepanto, AR -- Marsha Mays Reporting

"The Game of the Year"

DECEMBER 21, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CST

LEPANTO, AR -- Sports Illustrated usually doesn't make it to small towns in Arkansas for feature stories on football games, but this year they made an exception. On Friday the 13th in October, two teams that had yet to win a game all season were about to play a game of football.  But not just any game, one that would make history.

East Poinsett County and Hughes High School; two football teams with less than 30 players combined. They took the field for what they thought was a normal conference match up. Little did they know the game would make it on ESPN SportsCenter and be featured in Sports Illustrated as the "Game of the Year." With only one overtime, EPC pulled off the win, 73 to 72. Brett Hardin, the quarterback for EPC, and his dad stare in amazement at the article.

"Most definitely a dream come true. Never would have thought that when you grow up, you'll be in Sports Illustrated or anything like that, especially with such a little school," says Brett Hardin.

The morning after a game that lasted four hours, first year head coach Dusty Meek said he honestly couldn't believe what had just happened.

"Sure enough there were highlights on SportsCenter. Then Sports Illustrated called a couple days later and Sporting News and a couple other national magazines called," says Coach Meek.

Brett recalls what he felt on the field that memorable night.

"I just started jumping up and down. I couldn't believe it we finally got one. We worked so hard to just get one win. It felt good," says Hardin.

It's fair to say all the publicity has definitely caused hype in the rural town of Lepanto.

"I got relatives from Texas I didn't even know about sending me letters and everything, so I'm learning about new family I didn't even know I had," says Hardin.

Just goes to prove, you never know what can happen in the game of football.  Two small towns with losing football teams named "Game of the Year" in the nation's top sports magazine.

"Right now, it's kind of like a fairy tale or a dream, the idea that we're actually in Sports Illustrated," adds Coach Meek.

"Whenever you go 1 and 9, you don't think you'll have a game you'll really remember, but when you make Sports Illustrated, think you'll remember it for the rest of your life," says Hardin.

If you want to read the article for yourself, look for the 'Year in Sports' issue when it hits news stands next week.  

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