LONGVIEW - Rivalries are good for sports. They make the spirit of competition great and for the past two seasons a fierce rivalry has been going on in District 8-3A Division II between the Waskom Wildcats and the Arp Tigers.
They will square off in the Class 3A Division II Regional round Friday at Pirates Stadium in Longview at 6:30 p.m. The winner will take on either West Rusk or Omaha Paul Pewitt in the state quarterfinals.
Waskom has come out victorious in its past games against Arp, including a 55-23 victory in their Week 6 matchup. The Wildcats come into the contest with a 27-game winning streak that dates back to when they lost the first game of the 2014 season to the Center Roughnecks.
But Wildcats head coach Whitney Keeling knows that this Tigers team is a far different team than the one they faced earlier this season and he knows that they are ready to battle.
"They are playing better overall on offense and defense," Keeling said. "They made a few changes and they have been on a roll lately."
Keeling also understands how tough it will be to defeat a team twice in the same season.
"This is the first time that we have had to play a team twice in the same season," Keeling said. "It's uncharted waters for us but overall I think we'll be ready come game time."
Waskom is led by its senior running back Chan Amie who has put together a great season for the Wildcats.
Amie has rushed for 434 yards on 37 carries and has scored eight touchdowns. He has averaged 11.7 yards per rush and presents the opposing defenses problems in the running game.
"Chan is our leader," Keeling said. "As he goes so do we. He has done a tremendous job for us this year and I'm proud of him."
Arp's road to the playoffs has been a difficult one but when it mattered the most the Tigers have answered the bell. In order to make it to the postseason Arp needed to defeat district foes such as Troup, New Diana, Elysian Fields and Frankston to qualify for the playoffs.
After starting the season 1-5, Arp has reeled off seven in a row and the Tigers' last los was against Waskom.
Last week Arp pounced on Lone Oak 32-7 in the area round.
Arp did what it had to do and earned the final spot in the district to reach the playoffs but along the way Tigers head coach Dale Irwin made some key adjustments to put his team in a better situation to be successful.
"We moved Kayce Medlock, who started out playing quarterback for us this season, to running back and we moved Taylor Stewart to quarterback," Irwin said. "We know how strong of a downhill runner Kayce is and we put him with (running back) Julian Herndon and made a few adjustments to our defense and that has helped us out a lot."
Irwin also realizes that in order for his team to pull off the upset the Tigers must slow down Amie.
"He's a good running back and we've got to find a way to slow him down to have a shot at winning the game," Irwin said.