The Howard County Bowl is coming back to Big Spring on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
In just over two months, the Coahoma Bulldogs and Forsan Buffaloes will face-off against each other at Memorial Stadium for the seventh consecutive year. The two schools have actually opened the season against each other for the last eight years with the games in 2012 and 2013 being held in Midland. The series is an even 4-4 split over that timespan but Coahoma has hit a recent surge by winning the last three Howard County Bowl contests.
Both teams have plenty of respect for each other and the game is described as a friendly crosstown rivalry. With many connections between the coaching staff, players and fans, the two teams have not built up much of a deep-rooted on-field disliking for each other over the years.
“Coach Joslin and I are really good friends and we’ve known each other for a long time,” Forsan coach Jason Phillips said. “As far as coaches go do we want to beat those guys? Absolutely. But will we go play golf with them and go hunting with them? Absolutely. It’s a friendly rivalry. Yes, we want to beat each other but we want them to win the rest of their games after that one as well.”
Coahoma coach Chris Joslin added, “I know the schools are supposed to be rivals but besides the people that I work with my best friends are those coaches over at Forsan. We don’t really have a rivalry. We want to beat each other that night but we also talk all the time and run stuff by each other. I’ve been apart of some rivalries with two schools who really did not like each other and that’s not the case here.”
Even though they are not bitter rivals, it cannot be denied that both sides want to open their season with a win. When the chinstraps are buckled and the shoulder pads are on, those friends from across town become enemies for the next three hours and each side will be trying to avoid opening their season with a loss.
Phillips feels like there are ways his team can break the Coahoma winning streak. Both teams will be going into the 2020 season with some turnover at critical positions and the loss of some big time senior playmakers.
“We just have to be as ready as possible,” Phillips said. “Coach Joslin has done a great job with that program over the last couple years and luckily he graduated a few but we graduated a few as well. It’s one of those games that you prepare as much as you can but once that ball is tee’d up for that first kickoff I think you can throw a lot of the X’s and O’s out. It’s just going to be whoever wants it more.”
The last time the Buffs were able to defeat the Bulldogs was back in 2016 when running back Tearell McVay gashed the Coahoma defense for 174 yards and one touchdown on just 13 carries (13.4 yards per carry). Forsan won that game 42-19 but have been outscored by a total of 86-33 in the three games since.
Coahoma will have a considerable amount of turnover on the first string of their depth chart this year that includes a new starting quarterback after the graduation of Hardin-Simmons signee Zack Schneider. Joslin still believes his team will be well-prepared and ready to play until the final whistle during the season opener.
“(Forsan) is going to be really good this year,” Joslin said. “But as far as our chances, the way our kids work and the way our kids listen, I like our chances every time we play in any ballgame.”
Following months of inactivity in the sports world, the Howard County Bowl will be the biggest sporting event that has happened in Big Spring since March. The game is usually extremely popular throughout the community and brings a lot of money to the city but both coaches this year are expecting an even bigger turnout than usual. With most people being cooped up in their homes for the past several months, getting out and watching a competitive football game will be a nice welcome back to sports for the community.
“That game always has really good attendance fan-wise but I think it’ll be even more so this year,” Phillips said. “I think people are ready to get back to normal and sports are such a big part of our culture. I think it’ll be a great atmosphere as always but I think it may be even a little more so this year.”
Joslin added, “It’s always really popular because of the County. But this year is going to be like my first year at Coahoma with the game being on Thursday night, so it’s the only show in town going on. It’s going to be an exciting night. It’s fun because both teams want and expect to be in the playoffs and this game is a playoff-type atmosphere early in the year that gets those younger kids used to it really quick.”
Both coaches are great friends and both agree that the biggest thing that comes out of the Howard County Bowl is the scholarships that are awarded. The companies that put on and sponsor the Bowl game have created dozens of scholarships that are handed out that night. Both programs are greatly appreciative of those scholarships and are happy that the game is able to continue each year with those sponsors.
Now, let us take a look back at the previous six Howard County Bowl games:
2014: Coahoma defeats Forsan (6-2)
2015: Forsan defeats Coahoma (53-26)
2016: Forsan defeats Coahoma (42-19)
2017: Coahoma defeats Forsan (24-19)
2018: Coahoma defeats Forsan (24-14)
2019: Coahoma defeats Forsan (38-0)
If the season proceeds as currently planned, these teams will be battling it out on the gridiron a couple months from now in front of a stadium full of fans. For Forsan, they will be trying to end the current three-game Coahoma winning streak. On the other hand, the Bulldogs and Joslin will be attempting to keep his undefeated record against the Buffs going.
Let the best “rival” win.
Shawn Moran is the sports writer at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 432-263-7331.