By Kenny Mitchell
This Friday night is the big one for the year in local football as the DeKalb Bears will make the trip down Hwy. 82 to New Boston and the two teams will decide who takes ownership of the Traveling Trophy this season.
One of the oldest, if not the oldest, rivalries in Texas high school football will take to the field with way more than a season record at stake.
This year’s game is a district matchup and could very well be a deciding factor in the final district standings. Aside from that, the winner takes away bragging rights like no other game played around here.
The two teams have both seen success this season. The Lions stand at 3-2 with wins over Atlanta, Redwater and Queen City. The Bears are officially 2-1 with high scoring wins over Elysian Fields and Tenaha, but let’s face it, they really should be listed as 3-1. Jefferson wouldn’t come back and play, so as far as I am concerned, they lost.
Regardless, Friday night’s game between the Bears and the Lions will be a good one. Tack on the fact that the Lion faithful will be celebrating Homecoming, and it has no choice but to be a good game that no one wants to miss.
So, let’s break it down a little and see how the two teams match up. According to the best possible sources, the two teams have now met 92 times in all with New Boston holding a slim lead overall at 47-43-2. The Bears have won the last handful of games though, and the Traveling Trophy has been residing in DeKalb for several years. Will that change in 2023?
The Bears’ offense is potent and they put a lot of points on the board. QB Winky Williams had a career game last week, accounting for 356 yards of offense and scoring seven touchdowns. While Tenaha is not as good of a team as New Boston, they are no pushover, so the numbers against them are impressive.
The New Boston offense has been fueled by running back Ashton Rowden, who is on a pace to easily break the 1,000 yard mark for rushing this season. But it could be the Lions defense that will be the biggest challenge for the Bears.
The New Boston defense has held their opponent to 20 points or less in each of their three wins and players like Newt Taylor, Connor Bobbitt, Dontae Thompson and Will Erwin have stepped up to lead the effort. If the Lions defense can find a way to contain Williams, this will be a close game.
With all of the numbers and all of the fun and games that come with this rivalry, when it is all said and done, this game is tantamount to any other great rivalry in sports. Whether it be the Cowboys and the Eagles, the Yankees and the Red Sox, or the Bulls and the Celtics, when it comes to New Boston versus DeKalb, anything can happen. Stats and strengths often fall by the wayside when it comes to rivalries. I have seen times when the Longhorns walloped the Sooners when there was no way they should have. Intangibles come into play with these games. Players can get motivated by the taunting. Coaches can give a great pep talk. Maybe something on the field during the game turns the tide. You just never know.
The Lions will taste some Bear meat and the Bears will taste some Lion meat but I think the Traveling Trophy stays in DeKalb. Just barely.