Thus far in his three seasons as a Nixa starter, safety Spencer Ward said it hasn’t been any better in his perspective than the Eagles’ win last week at Republic.
“That was the best football atmosphere I've been in,” he said.
That said, Ward won’t allow for any sort of letdown this week leading up to Nixa’s Backyard Brawl contest versus Ozark on Friday.
“It’s going by so quickly,” Ward said of his senior season. “That's why, every week, I've got to play as hard as I can each play. I've got to do what I can to my full ability each play like it's my last one because one day it will be.”
The Nixa-Ozark rivalry will naturally make it easy for both sides to get their competitive juices flowing, no matter what has preceded Friday's game. The Eagles will be looking for their third straight Backyard Brawl victory.
“Hopefully, I can go undefeated in it,” Ward said. “I've never liked Ozark and have wanted to pound them every year.”
Nixa is 8-0 and basking in the glow of its COC championship. Ozark is 1-7. But both sides expect the best out of each other.
“I'm expecting another straight-out dogfight from the get-go,” Nixa cornerback Parker Mann said. “I have friends at Ozark and I know they're ready for this game. They have this game circled every year. We're ready for it, too.”
“It will be a big week leading up to it. That's how it's always been,” Eagles wide receiver Rylan Michel said.
Nixa coach John Perry has grown to appreciate the Backyard Brawl and is looking forward to building a relationship with first-year Ozark coach Jeremy Cordell.
“I’ve wanted to go out to eat with him. By the looks of him, I eat more than him. So when we go out to eat, I'll probably be eating his dessert,” Perry said. “We’ll get together after the season is over. He seems like a super guy who has them working hard. I think we will get along great and become friends. We have a lot in common, from reading some of his stuff on social media.”
Many of the Eagles and Tigers consider each other rivals and friends, in that order.
“(Ozark wideout) Sam Clark is my boy. (Tigers running back) Jack Bowers, too,” Ward said. “We text each other every once in a while and keep tabs on our seasons.”
Mann is also friends with Clark, along with Ozark linebacker Parker Elliott and defensive back Tagen Scott.
Mann is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with them, but not necessarily this week.
“We like to hang out,” Mann said. “During football season, we haven't hung out much because I want to keep my enemies away. But after football season, we'll hang out again.”