On Friday, two Class 3A Texas high school football games will each travel more than three hours to face off in a heavily anticipated game at a neutral site. One of the contestants -- Celina (Texas) High -- is among the state's most ballyhooed programs, previously winning 68 consecutive games (in Texas mind you!) and earning a cameo in a Kenny Chesney music video.
Yet when Celina takes on Perryton (Texas) High, both teams will be more than just road teams: They'll be competing in a completely different state. As reported by The Oklahoman, the pair of Texas powers decided that they were better suited playing their game in a small city in the Sooner state than having one team drive nearly seven hours across Texas to the other's home turf.
"I joked with our fans that they better follow our team out to Norman North for a tough game," Yukon (Okla.) High athletic director David Fisher, whose school will host the game, told The Oklahoman. "But for the casual football fan interested in seeing a couple of pretty good 3A Texas teams, they can do it in Yukon."
The decision to play in Yukon was instigated by the Celina administration, which knew Fisher from his time as a coach in Texas; the Oklahoma high school AD reportedly spent seven years coaching in the Lone Star State. When both Celina and Perryton discussed possible options, they agreed it was a better idea to split the travel time and make Friday's game a moderate inconvenience for both teams rather than a crippling one for either side.
Still, for all the geographic sense that the arrangement makes, it also requires a significant leap of faith for two Texas teams to sign on playing in Oklahoma. With the state of Texas hosting more University of Texas fans than those of any other allegiance, few want to spend more time than they need to across the Red River. That's particularly true a day before the Longhorns are scheduled to take on the first of back-to-back Oklahoma foes (Texas visits Oklahoma State on Saturday before facing off with Oklahoma on Oct. 4).
Assuming everything proceeds as planned, the hope is that a similar or even identical arrangement will come to fruition in 2013, when Perrydale is scheduled to host the two teams. For now, both squads will focus on trying to get a win in very unfamiliar territory.