SPRINGFIELD – High school sports rivalries can be a funny thing.
For a four-year period, student-athletes often see opponents throughout the school year, doing battle against the same players in various sports venues.
For three Reeds Spring High School football players who have done battle with opponents from Mt. Vernon and Springfield Catholic high schools, things changed quickly on Friday night.
Instead of squaring off against Mt. Vernon’s Will Boswell and Springfield Catholic’s Tyson Riley, they were on the same team for one night, in the Grin Iron Classic at JFK Stadium at Parkview High School.
It came together naturally, too.
“It was awesome, it was a blast,” Seth Stamps said. “We made a lot of friends that you’d never think you would have made. Once we got together, it was cool to see the bond we could make so quickly.
“Once we got together and we got to know each other’s personalities, it was like, ‘OK, we’re cool off the field.’ It was awesome to build some bonds and some relationships.”
Stamps was one of three Reeds Spring players participating in the 18th annual game, all on the defensive side of the ball for the East team.
Stamps played in the secondary and also saw time as a punt returner, with high school teammates Justin Miller (defensive line) and Ben Moler (linebacker) also in action. Hollister’s Logan Armitage was a receiver for the East team, which jumped out to a 26-0 lead, en route to a 47-29 victory.
Miller said the experience and relationships built with former rivals won’t be soon forgotten.
“We’re just having fun, making new friends,” he said. “I’ve only really known them for a week, but they are going to be life-long friends. Getting close like that is really what it’s all about.
“There were a lot of really good athletes on the field, so it was kind of different. It was fun to get that experience.”
The first half saw a blitz from the East team – with Riley scoring on two TD runs, Boswell adding one of his own, and Camdenton’s Kylan Draper scooping up a blocked punt for a fourth touchdown and a 26-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Riley finished with 104 rushing yards and was named the East Offensive MVP, with Draper winning Defensive MVP honors.
The Reeds Spring players made their presence felt, as well.
It was a 12-0 game late in the first quarter when the West quarterback dropped back and felt pressure. He floated a pass across the middle that was picked off by Moler. That gave the East team a short field, ending with a 17-yard TD run by Riley on the first play of the second quarter.
“That was just cherry on the sundae,” Moler said.
“It’s a great way to go out, meeting new buddies and playing with old buddies again. To finish out with a win, too, I couldn’t be happier.”