On Saturday, Mesquite Horn (Texas) High and Longview (Texas) High will face off in one of the year's most anticipated rematches for the right to reach the Class 5A Division II state semifinals. Yet, despite all the technical aspects that make the game a fascinating battle, most of the attention so far is focused on the site of the game, which happens to be in another state.
As reported by the Dallas Morning News, there are actually a host of reasons why the game will be played out of state. The two teams couldn't agree on a neutral site for the game in either Dallas -- which was considered too close to Mesquite's home turf -- or near Longview, which would have given the Lobos an obvious home-field advantage. Then, the one potential solution offered up by Longview, Kincaide Stadium in Dallas, was rejected by Mesquite Horn officials despite their school's campus sitting less than 20 miles from the stadium.
Why would Mesquite reject a game at Kincaide? Mostly because of Longview's significant history of success at the site. The stadium has been nicknamed "Lobo West" because of a litany of big-game victories by Longview there across the years, most recently a victory in last year's Class 4A Division I state semifinals.
With the two schools at complete loggerheads over a site, they were forced to effectively flip a coin after first putting forward two potential stadiums. Mesquite proposed playing the game at Ford Stadium, on SMU's campus in Dallas, while Longview picked Independence Stadium, which is in the closest large city to Longview.
As one can guess given the final outcome, Longview came out as the lucky team, forcing Mesquite into an arduous, five-plus hour trek (344 miles, to be exact) to a stadium in another state to contend a Texas regional final.
It's a strange way to determine where to play a huge playoff game, but the Independence Stadium pick was technically well within Longview's rights, and served as a punishment for Mequite's refusal to host the game at Kincaide, so close to their own campus. Now the question is whether the Horn fans will be willing to travel as far as the football team to try and neutralize what should be a significant Longview advantage.