Could the Conway High School Wampus Cats ever play the Conway Christian School Eagles in a football game?
This intracity rivalry sounds far-fetched, as CHS is one of the largest 7A schools in the state, while class 2A CCS is the smallest school that plays football.
But one only has to look back a little over a decade ago to northwest Arkansas to see something similar that happened. From 2000-2003, the Springdale High School Bulldogs played the tiny crosstown upstart Shiloh Christian Saints.
In 2000, with Gus Malzahn as head coach, the Saints managed a 7-7 tie in front of about 9,000 fans at Springdale High School. Of course Shiloh was coming off back-to-back undefeated state championship teams. Malzahn was not your typical high school coach and Shiloh Christian was not your typical AA football team.
The next year, Malzahn moved over as head coach at Springdale High and the game was moved over to Fayetteville to accommodate the expected crowd.
On Saturday, September 8, 2001, the University of Arkansas played Tennessee in the very first game in newly renovated Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in front of a record crowd of over 70,000. Two days later, on Monday, September 10, Springdale High beat the Saints in a thriller 21-14 in front of an estimated 23,000.
And for a point of reference in time, the next morning, the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. The two schools played two more times, in 2002 and 2003, and both proved to be blowouts by the Bulldogs, as Malzahn had built his juggernaut at Springdale High. The 2005 season would be his high-water mark, running the table for a state championship behind Mitch Mustain and a slew of D-1 college recruits. After that, the “Gus Bus” motored on up to the college ranks.
So, could it ever happen in Conway? Conway High School vs. Conway Christian School in a football game?
A lot of things would have to fall into place. It would take a coach, and administration, at Conway High not afraid of possibly losing to a much smaller school in your back yard.
And it would take a coach, and administration, at Conway Christian not afraid to take a probable tail-whipping by a much larger squad.
Conway Christian has developed quite a spirited rivalry with crosstown St. Joseph, a private Catholic school with similar enrollment. The Bulldogs do not field a football team, but do play the Eagles in the other sports.
So, could it ever happen? Cats vs. Eagles? My guess is probably not. At least not anytime soon.
But as Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
(Guest columnist David Grimes can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)