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When it comes to good hometown rivalries in high school football, one needs not look any further than Saline County. With Benton and Bryant standing alone at the top of the list, there are other rivalries right here in the county that catch the eye of residents and football fans in general. Aside from the Benton/Bryant battle that has been around since 1974, there is also a very heated and exciting war between the Glen Rose Beavers and Bauxite Miners.
Though Bauxite is in a bit of a slump, the rivalry has swayed into the Beavers advantage. Glen Rose shut out Bauxite in Week 2, 35-0. But, there is also another rivalry that many may not remember. Though the football version is only three 3-years-old now, the overall matches go back decades. Glen Rose and the Harmony Grove Cardinals have battered, bruised and mangled each other over the years. From the baseball field to the band hall, the rivalry has always had its high points, especially since the schools are just a few miles apart.
But now with a football team in Haskell and both teams back in the same conference, the rivalry has been reborn. While few literal fights have taken place between the two, the rivalry is more of a friendly one.
With Week 4 of the season here in full force, the Cardinals and Beavers hit the field for another contest that is sure to be exciting, no matter what the score is. The Beavers shut out the Cardinals a season ago, winning 40-0 at Beaver Stadium.
Thus far in 2012, the Beavers are 2-1, including a 42-12 rout of Mineral Springs last week.
â€śAfter the first quarter, we woke up and played like we are capable of playing,â€ť Head Beaver Coach Mark Kehner said regarding the win last week. â€śI was really happy with our defense. I think we have really played well over the past few weeks and have started hitting people.â€ť
Glen Rose allowed an early touchdown to Mineral Springs last week and didnâ€™t allow another point until the last play of the gameâ€”another touchdown.
As for the Cardinals, they are currently sitting at 1-2 but progressing well as they fight through depth and injury issues. Last week was a very good game against Magnet Cove, despite losing 21-13. The Cardinals battled through key injuries in the loss.
â€śTurnovers cost us the game,â€ť Cardinals Head Coach Red Parker said. â€śThat is the only turnover battle that we have lost this year. It was a night made for turnovers with all of the rain and mud. Plus, our offense has to take chances sometimes.â€ť
Parker added that he thought his players, â€śreally played well in the second half.â€ť
As for the plan for both teams come Fridayâ€”different is an understatement.
For Glen Rose, being concerned about the other team is not a big issue.
â€śWe are really concentrating on what we need to do,â€ť Kehner said. â€śWe have yet to play four quarters of solid football. We are really putting the emphasis on ourselves to come out and do the right things and clean some stuff up.â€ť
For Harmony Grove, improving each week has been the plan since the schoolâ€™s first ever game in 2010.
â€śThe big thing that we want to do is just thatâ€”improve every week,â€ť Parker said. â€śThat is our goal. To improve from the week before and to understand all of the things that take place in a football game.â€ť
The Cardinals entered last week with an injury-plagued squad. Once again in Week 4, the Cardinals are still trying to battle through those. Colby Byrd, one of the teamâ€™s biggest playmakers, is still not expected to play this week as he continues to nurse an Achilles tendon injury.
As for the rest of the team, health should not be an issue.
Kehner did say that he will be looking to spread things out a little and pass the ball around a little bit.
For the Beavers in Week 3, quarterback Collin Hunter had another great game, passing for 135 yards and a touchdown on the night. The running game has been one of many key reasons to the Beavers success in 2012. Carlos Burton broke out last week with a 134-yard performance and is averaging 10 yards a carry on the year. Dillon Coney also ran for 111 yards on 17 carries and twoTDs. Backup quarterback and short-gain guy Clay Holicer scored twice on four carries in last weekâ€™s win.
Needless to say, the Salt Bowl is not the only Saline County rivalry taking place Friday night. The Beavers and Cardinals will kick off at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium.