Long Standing Rivalries Make Texas High School Football Great: Part Two

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Photo by Tammy McKinley, Beaumont Enterprise
Ginger Wilson @gingwilson
September 6, 2016

There’s nothing quite like a high school football rivalry in Texas. Not only are the teams fighting for bragging rights, they are upholding the honor of those who played before them. While most statewide rivalries are friendly, some border on all out war. Pride is on the line every single year.

The Guadalupe River Bowl features New Braunfels (27-6A) and Seguin (26-5A DI), foes on the field since 1927. New Braunfels holds the 60-36-3 advantage over Seguin and on Friday, September 2nd, they will meet for the 99th time. There were many years during the beginning of this rivalry where the two teams would play twice in the same season. Seguin defeated New Braunfels 38-31 in 2013, with New Braunfels taking the last two in the series 42-21 and 29-21. For 21 years, Seguin failed to win a game against the Unicorns, with five of those games being decided by a touchdown or less. The longest win streak for Seguin was from 1964-1977 with the largest margin of victory 54-0 in 1969. All bets are on when this game comes around as it’s been said the mayors of both towns make a friendly wager before the big game.

Mid-County Madness now known as the Bum Phillips Bowl between Port Neches-Groves (22-5A DI) and Nederland (22-5A DI) is more like a state championship game than a school rivalry. Separated by railroad tracks, this is as close of a rivalry as you can get. Over 15,000 fans attend the game each year which began in 1925. That first year, PNG and Nederland played twice with PNG winning the first game 13-7 and Nederland winning the second 6-0. That set the tone for a rivalry which has stood the test of time.

Like most rivalries, the week before the big game is filled with excitement throughout both communities and schools. After a scoreless game in 1965, PNG went on a 19 year win streak, which ended in 1983. Nederland has topped PNG since 2010 with four of those six games being decided by seven or fewer points. Wade Phillips has even been a part of the game as he played quarterback for PNG in 1967 and his father, Bum Phillips, coached at both schools. The overall record goes to PNG, but not by much. Since their first meeting 90 years ago, PNG has won 46, Nederland 37 and they’ve ended in a tie seven times.

Big time Texas high school football games are not limited to the metro areas, as a unique rivalry exists in far south Texas between Harlingen and San Benito. Like the previous rivalry, the two towns are not far apart, creating a dynamic atmosphere.

The Battle of the Arroyo garners much attention in the Valley. Suggested it’s named for the Arroyo Colorado river which runs through Hildago, Willacy and Cameron counties, the rivalry pits Harlingen and San Benito against one another in a battle of South Texas. Fans are always ready for the big game, as excitement runs high the week leading up to the game.

The series began in 1930 with Harlingen winning the first two years while San Benito won the next three. Since then, Harlingen holds the all time record at 57-20-5. Although it appears San Benito has not always fared well in the rivalry, the game is still huge for members of the community. Aside from bragging rights, the winner of this game notches a district win, which makes this game even better. The final district game of the season and a rivalry all rolled up in one. What more could a Friday night faithful want? (Note of interest, San Benito will play their 1,000 game this Friday when they host San Antonio East Central.)

Five miles of cotton fields separate Fabens (2-4A DI) and Clint (2-4A DI), who have been squaring off in The Cotton Bowl since 1941.

“This one rivalry will bring alums from all over the state back to their home towns to watch this game,” said Bryan Borjas.

Fabens dominated the rivalry in the early years, with Clint only getting the win five times from 1941-89. Since then, Clint has become a force in the rivalry, beating Fabens 17 times.

“Both sides of the stands fill up and along the fence bordering the field,” said Borjas. “Fans are there cheering on their home towns.” He ended saying, “The refs even say there is no other game in El Paso County they’d rather be at, but the Fabens and Clint game.”

The Battle of 377 between Brownwood (3-4A DI) and Stephenville (3-4A DI) has been going on since 1937. During the series, there have only been five seasons the two rivals didn’t meet on the field. Not only do the two programs boast a rich history, they also lay claim to a combined 12 state championships. Brownfield won the series every year from 1964-87 with the exception of 1965 and 1967 because the teams did not play those two years. They own the series record at 45-28-2, breaking a Stephenville three year streak last year.

“I played in the mid 70’s under Gordon Wood,” said Bart Johnson. “Both my sons played in the mid 2000’s. One of my sons went on to TCU and said this rivalry was the best high school football game.”

Friendly or not, rivalry games are part of the history of Texas high school football. There are many more great rivalries across the state not mentioned in this two part series, but deserve to be recognized. Check back throughout the season for more stories on the best rivalries in the state of Texas.

*All time win records as by Lone Star Football Network.

Know of a great Texas high school football rivalry? Send information to [email protected] I’d love to hear what makes your team’s rivalry one of the best in Texas!

*Note: This is part two in a two part series.


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