Morrilton High School Athletics


New hardware, same old goal


"We probably caught you guys at the right time last year," Morrilton Devil Dogs head coach Cody McNabb told the crowd gathered inside Cyclone Arena during Wednesday's press conference for the inaugural Battle on I-40 match-up between Morrilton and Russellville. Last year, in Russellville Cyclones second-year head coach Billy Dawson's debut, the Devil Dogs defeated Russellville 35-21. The Cyclones opened the season 1-5 but ended by winning four of their last six, including a playoff win over the Sheridan Yellowjackets. Russellville was bumped from the Class 6A state tournament by the eventual state champions, Pine Bluff. "You know, this is one of those games," McNabb went on. "It's always good having Russellville first because you never have a bad practice. The kids get up for it, and if they are slacking, you can always remind them how hard Russellville is working. They're a bigger school, so we like the competition." Russellville leads the series 49-30-2. The Cyclones and Morrilton have opened against each other every year since 1981 (36 straight seasons) and have played each other 90 times since 1910. The rivalry goes back so long, the teams used to travel by train to play one another. The only opponent the Cyclones have played more than the Devil Dogs are the Conway Wampus Cats. But this year is different. This year the rivalry will be marked with a travelling trophy, sponsored by Asurion, which will stay with the winning school for a year. The winning school's athletic program will receive $1,000 from Asurion, while the losing school will get $500. The Battle on I-40 trophy will be delivered by helicopter to the 50-yard line at Cyclone Stadium prior to kickoff. The fanfare and theatrics are all well and good, but for the coaches and the players -- this is a football game. Russellville senior wide receiver Ryan Meador described the entire offseason as a factory. The production will be on display on the field tonight. "No one goes to a factory to watch things being produced," he said. "They want that product. Friday will be that final product." "We're looking forward to a very good night," Dawson said. "A very competitive night. We feel like our program is heading in the right direction, inch by inch, we are gaining in the right direction." Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at Cyclone Stadium.