ALTO, TX (KTRE) - East Texas is about to witness a rivalry reignite for the first time 35 years. Although the towns are just 10 minutes apart, Alto and Rusk haven't played against each other in all this time.
Alto head football coach Paul Gould said he was told the last time Alto and Rusk played was in 1981.
With that being said, it was really a rivalry that started with the player's parents and some of the older generations. However, the older folks have let the current players know all about the once heated exchanges between the two towns to make the rivalry still relevant to the present time.
"Every time you see somebody they say 'You going to beat Rusk?' Ever since week one people have said 'You going to beat Rusk?' This is a game we've been focusing on and it's finally here. I'm just ready to go out there and play," said senior receiver Mikkah Hackett.
In all their games they scheduled this year, the team, and maybe more so the community, had this contest circled on their calendars.
"Ever since the season started, the team has still mentioned Rusk every now and then but we still have ball games to play. We still have a district to play after this and everything, but this is definitely one they've been looking forward too," said Alto head coach Paul Gould. "Once we scheduled it and it got out, I can't tell you how many phone calls we got saying 'Oh we're playing Rusk. It's a big deal.'"
"We've been talking about the game since the football season started. Every week we're like 'We're ready for Rusk. We're ready for Rusk' They're texting us and snapchatting us saying 'We're ready for you and are ready for us?' We're ready," said sophomore quarterback Fred Thacker. "Every time they see me at the store or something they say 'You better not lose to Rusk. You better not lose to Rusk' We can't lose to Rusk."
As of Wednesday, Gould said he heard Alto sold over 1,000 pre-sell tickets while Rusk sold over 2,000 pre-sell tickets. It's going to be a packed, playoff type of atmosphere Friday night at Rusk High School. Game starts at 7:30 p.m.