The Booneville vs Ozark rivalry has one of the richest traditions in the Natural state dating all the way back to 1924. The Bearcats and Hillbillies have kept the history alive, competing against each other on a consistent basis since 1950.
"Everybody wants to win," said former Ozark player Bronson Ruston. "It’s kind of one those deals that you hear people say, 'Oh man we hate Ozark, or we hate Booneville,' but you know probably deep down they don’t."
Booneville head football coach Scott Hyatt knows every year how important the rivalry game is not only to the teams, but also the communities.
"It’s just one of those things where people in town tell them you better beat Ozark and you know I’m sure people in Ozark tell them you better beat Booneville it’s ingrained, it’s not ingrained in the kids it’s ingrained in both communities."
Both schools have had other foes over the years, but the battle between Ozark and Booneville is the rivalry that has stood the test of time. When players in the area first start to play football it’s instilled in them that Bonneville Ozark rivalry reigns supreme at all levels.
"We play them in little league as well in the youth program," said Ozark football coach Jeremie Burns. "It starts early, I mean from third grade on here at Ozark they develop that rivalry between the coaches, between the players and everything so it starts early."
The match-up between the two has been one-sided with Booneville leading the series 49-26-4. When it comes to the game, the record means nothing to the teams at the time.
"I think a lot of times you can throw the records out when the two teams meet," said former Booneville player Andrew Daniel. "Because, there’s a lot pride involved in the games."
Like other long standing rivalries, there have been times when it has been more of competitive than others. Starting in the 90’s, the rivalry gained more traction and has continued into the present with the longest winning streak only lasting three years
"In the 90’s and early 2000’s we have had some big ball games with them," said Hyatt. "We had one loss that year they beat us 21-nothing we want on to win a state championship. It’s back and forth."
Bragging rights is not all that’s on the line for the rivals. The annual game usually decides who will win a conference championship.
"Usually settles for the conference championship," said Burns. "That’s one of the ones we have to win, and definitely a rivalry game on top of that."
Even though a 30-minute drive separates the two teams, fans, players and coaches see this rivalry between the two as a tradition and one that will continue to grow.