The trophy reads “Cimarron River Rivalry,” but nobody except a corporate sponsor goes with the politically correct name.
It’s the War on 74 and it resumes Friday night when unranked but ever-dangerous Crescent travels to No. 2 Cashion in a huge District A-3 showdown.
“Things definitely have picked up around here this week,” said Crescent coach J.L. Fisher, whose team is 2-1 with the lone loss coming at the hands of No. 3 Morrison.
“Our kids know it’s a big rivalry game and they want to give themselves the best opportunity to win.”
Crescent’s lone win in the series since Cashion moved to 11-man in 2009 came last year.
The Tigers, who eventually finished as state runners-up, blistered Cashion 54-14 on the same Maxon Field they’ll be visiting this Friday night.
Crescent racked up 660 total yards, 491 of them on the ground.
“They just threw us around,” Cashion coach Lynn Shackelford said after that game. “Sometimes it looked like a JV team against a varsity team. That’s how good they (Crescent) looked.”
Cashion had no answer for quarterback Hunter Bowers, who ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 169 and three more scores.
“Stopping him is obviously huge if we want to have more success this time,” Shackelford said.
Bowers had 171 passing yards, 108 rushing yards and six total touchdowns in the Tigers’ 62-28 blowout of Oklahoma Christian Academy last week.
“You probably can’t completely stop him, but we’ve definitely got to slow him down,” Shackelford said.
Cashion has met little resistance thus far as its given up 12 point in three games and beaten its foes by an average of 34 points.
“I felt going into the year our defense was going to be improved and that we weren’t going to have to try to outscore teams like we have some years,” Shackelford said. “But this will be the biggest test for our defense by far this season.”
Last year’s game is likely to have an impact on both teams as they prepare.
“I think last year definitely helped us,” Fisher said. “It had been such a long time and although there were three or four games that could have gone either way, they all went their way.
“So it had been in the back of our minds that we hadn’t beaten them, so it’s good that this group has experienced that and has the confidence they can do it.”
Shackelford said his team will be reminded all week of the manhandling that happened last season, snapping his team’s nine-game win streak in the series.
“I want them to remember that every day,” Shackelford said. “So hopefully they’ll do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Beyond the rivalry stakes come the playoff implications.
Both squads are already 1-0 in their nine-team district.
“Most coaches in our district agree that there are six or seven teams in the district capable of making the playoffs,” Fisher said. “We’re going to have a couple of teams get left out that could easily get to the playoffs in another district, so every single game is important.”
The winner of this one gets a leg up on the district title and coveted two home playoff games. The loser not only finds itself on the wrong end of bragging rights for a year, but is also one step closer to possible elimination.
“There’s a really good chance that a team with only two district losses misses the playoffs,” Shackelford said. “So this game has huge implications moving forward.”
(NOTE: Skordle will be at this year's War on 74. Be sure to stop by our tent for promotional items and information about the Skordle App.)