MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - The Osceola/Rivercrest rivalry spans decades-long. Friday, for the 48th time in the series history, Osceola and Rivercrest will square off on the gridiron, but the situation is a bit different this year.
Osceola was originally scheduled to face Harrisburg, and Rivercrest was supposed to be meeting Highland, but both games were canceled.
Both teams were left without opponents. When Osceola’s game was canceled Wednesday, Athletic Director Russell Leggett said he knew immediately where to go.
“My first immediate thought was, ‘well, there’s a team 12 miles down the road that needs a game too,’” Leggett said.
It was the right place at the right time for both sides.
“All of a sudden Wednesday morning, we heard that Osceola was open," Rivercrest Head Coach Johnny Fleming said. "They called us and we called them about the same time and that’s how everything kind of took place.”
Officials from both sides say they’re happy the rivalry is back on, but more importantly, the student-athletes get to play football on a Friday night.
“You have to look at it like this, this is for the kids," Leggett said. "It’s important that the kids get to play. They’ve been out there working hard, they deserve to get to play.”
Tickets for the game sold out within minutes. Officials say even though seating is limited, they’re excited about the atmosphere. As for the coaches and players, they’re stoked to continue the rivalry.
“The kids, they love it," Leggett said. "The excitement in our kids' eyes when they found out who they were going to get to play was just unreal. And, like I said, we’re just looking forward to it.”
“I didn’t have to tell [the team] anything," Fleming said when asked what he told his team to get them mentally ready for the game. "They’ve been wanting to play this game, no matter what, when they knew teams starting canceling, they said ‘coach, can we play Osceola? Can we play Osceola?’ And I’m sure their kids are the same way, so it doesn’t take anything to get them fired up about this game.”
Whether the rivalry will continue after tonight’s game remains to be seen.
Leggett said that this game is a one-time deal, but he did express hope that the rivalry would continue.