Bay City coach Robert Jones knows the rivalry with El Campo has taken on a different tone over the years.
But nothing has changed when it comes to playing for bragging rights.
“Back in the day we used to go to their campus and do stuff and they would come here and do stuff,” Jones said. “That kind of stuff has died off. But I know they’re going to be fired up because they hear from both communities when they’re at home.”
The No. 3 Ricebirds (6-1, 2-0) and Blackcats (2-4, 0-2) will play for the 118th time and 102nd consecutive year in the state’s oldest continuous rivalry when they meet in a District 12-4A, Division I game at 7 p.m. Friday at Bay City’s Memorial Stadium.
First-year El Campo head coach Chad Worrell is looking forward to becoming a part of the rivalry and continuing the Ricebirds’ success.
El Campo leads the series 64-44-9 and has won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the teams.
“I knew that it was one of the oldest in Texas,” Worrell said. “It’s been interesting since I’ve gotten here since Day 1 people have been talking about you’ve got to beat Bay City. Obviously, it’s really nostalgic and really cool to be a part of the tradition.”
The players enjoy getting the chance to perform before a large crowd in a big-game atmosphere.
But in a game with quite a bit of back-and-forth banter, they do their best to keep their emotions in check.
“There’s definitely a lot going into it with all the 118-year rivalry,” said El Campo senior lineman Jack Dorotik. “Especially during the game, everyone is fighting super hard and is super intense. Oh yeah, there is a lot of talking. You just have to keep your head straight. In a game like this penalties are big, especially when it’s close. You have to keep your teammates out of trouble. That’s really important besides playing hard of course.”
Bay City freshman running back Jada Andrews grew up watching the game in the stands and is looking forward to becoming part of the rivalry.
“I’ve been watching this since I was a little baby,” Andrews said. “It’s the same thing. It’s the sport I love. It’s my turn. I finally get to play on varsity on Friday nights.”
The Blackcats have only one senior starting on offense and one on defense and have experienced some rough patches.
“It’s just trial by error,” said Jones, who played at Bay City. “We’re letting the guys learn from their mistakes this year. We’re building for the future. The kids that we’ve got have bought in. They show up every day. They’re young and they learn from their mistakes.”
El Campo has high expectations for this season and is coming off a 69-47 win over Brazosport in which running back Rueben Owens rushed for 342 yards and five touchdowns and was named the Class 4A Built Ford Tough Player of the Week.
“You really want to treat it as any other game,” Worrell said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do this year is really work on getting our kids on an even keel and preparing for everyone the same way.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a rivalry,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an undefeated team. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the playoffs in the third round. It doesn’t matter who it is. We’re going to prepare for each team the same and get out there and get after it.”
If the history of the rivalry is any indication, neither team has to worry about being ready to play.
“To think back about the history and all the people who have played in these games over the years,” Worrell said, “and how many great players and coaches have been part of this game is something special to be a part of.”
“I’ve been preaching that to the kids all week,” Jones added. “It’s going to be packed on both sides of the stadium. When this game comes, records don’t mean anything. The team that comes out and hits the other one in the mouth and plays with heart and passion...you can’t coach that. You have to play like that on Friday night.”