MOWER COUNTY, Minn. - It is a rivalry we have not seen in years. Both schools are a short drive apart but have been in different classes for nearly two decades.
Since Southland has moved to 9-Man football, both schools are gearing up for a top-three showdown on Friday.
They are two small towns. LeRoy and Adams. The Cardinals and the Rebels. Both undefeated teams, but one will lose its first of the season on Friday.
Both teams have been the surprise of 9-Man football. LeRoy-Ostrander was not expected to be a major player in the division and recorded just two wins in 2018. However, the Cardinals have been a giant killer this season defeating Spring Grove and Grand Meadow in back-to-back weeks.
“I think confidence is the big thing there,” said LeRoy-Ostrander head coach Trevor Carrier. “We had a lot of people doubt us and talk a lot of talk about how we didn’t have a team four years ago, and just so many things like that. For our boys, I think confidence is the biggest thing. We’re gaining the confidence and we believe every game we can play, we win.”
In Adams, Southland moved down to the 9-Man but have not shown any rust adjusting to the new class. The Rebels went on the road to defeat a tough Houston squad in the opening week and have cruised ever since.
“We’ve got great senior leadership,” said Southland head coach Shawn Kennedy. “They’ve worked their tails off and we knew coming into this conference how good they are. I haven't had to say squat. They’re just driven and I really believe that’s a big part of it.”
The matchup has all of the ingredients of a big-game feel. However, things get interesting.
The two schools haven’t played one another in football in two decades, but are separated by less than 12 miles and co-op in many sports.
Many of the kids grew up together and have friends on the other team.
“I went to church with a lot of the and played with them in the fifth and sixth grade in the Austin league so I know them pretty good,” said Chase Johnson.
“A lot of guys know friends over there. Everyone knows someone around here and it’s going to be a fun game to be able to see your friends across the field,” said Carter Schmitz.
Then it gets even more interesting. Southland head coach Shawn Kennedy is the Cardinal’s activities director – making him Carrier’s boss.
“I talked to him today and he came in harassing me just like usual because I wasn’t there yesterday. Trevor and I are good friends and it's going to remain that way always,” said Kennedy.
Bragging rights aside, the two are looking forward to coaching against one another.
“I’m sure there will be some communication here and there and maybe put some red balloons in his office. I don’t know, but it will be a fun week for sure,” said Carrier.
It’s a rivalry in the making and it all comes together Friday night in LeRoy. You can catch the highlights during KIMT News 3’s Sports Overtime.