E veryone knows the importance of the “Battle of the Ravine“. It’s the Good Guys vs. The Bad, the Tigers vs. the Reddies, Private vs. Public or simply OBU vs. Henderson. It’s the biggest event in Arkadelphia year in and year out. Alumni come to the game to support their alma mater. And screaming students and fans fill the stands. The winner gets bragging rights the whole year, until the next time the two football teams take the field against each other.
We all know a lot about the general aspect of the game, but how deep is our knowledge of what really takes place during the week of the “Battle of the Ravine”? Senior football player Roy Richards gives his player point-of-view of the week. He’s played at Ouachita for four years and has started every year against Henderson.
“From the first day they release the schedule we skip past all the other games to mark this one off.” says Richard “It’s the biggest game every year.” The week usually begins with a speech by Coach Knight. During this week we don’t even refer to them as Henderson State, they are “The Guys across the Street”. We don’t even wear red this week. That’s how serious it is,” Richard explains.
I asked Richard about the friends that he has on Henderson States’ football team. He replied “Friends? You should know there are no friends during this week. I do have friends on the team, but I won’t talk to them at all because of the hatred and want to win.”
“I’ve cried every time I lost to Henderson,” Richard says referring to the passion he brings to this game. A lot of fans watch the game and want their team to win, but who wants it bad enough to cry?
Richard was asked to explain how that week of practice goes? “It’s the most intense and focused practice of the year. Coach Knight is anal about everything. If you miss a block he flips on you. You can clearly see how important it is to him as well. We actually practice on the main field a lot because the practice field is so open and we don’t want somebody from across the street spying on us or something.”
With the huge crowd and the coaches all stressing the importance of the game I know there has to be some pressure for the players. I mean even though most of them have never heard of the rivalry until they got to Arkadelphia, they are playing for many alumni and basically half the city. This is a lot of pressure for an 18 year old to take. Roy explains the pressure of the game. “As a man you want to protect your family from harm. In this case OBU is my home and the fans are my family. It’s like the weight of all the 125 years of Ouachita’s history is on your back. If we lose we let the whole school down. Even though I might not know each person individually I feel like I play for them. And that’s just pressure in itself.”
“I can’t sleep that night because I can’t help but go over the plays 100 times in my head and envision myself making all the big plays the next day.” He talked about it being like a kid on Christmas Eve being so anxious that they couldn’t sleep.
“Now the game is a different story,” Richard begins to talk about the game. Running through the tunnel hearing the crowd scream is the most live part ever. Everyone is one their feet and cheering for you. I’m not usually a loud person, but I find myself screaming and yelling. Now this is the dirtiest game of the season. You get called names, cheap shot, and don’t ever get caught under a pile. I mean a couple of times, since I’ve been here, we couldn’t even shake hands at the end of the game. This game is where all your hard work pays off. Numerous amounts of time we’ve broken the huddle at the end of practice in spring training or spring meetings on beat Henderson. If that’s the only game we win every year we must beat Henderson.”
“Watching the game is great, but playing in it is amazing,” says Roy. I asked him if he had one last thing to say about the “Battle of the Ravine”, and he said “ We don’t lose to Henderson.”
Photo by Dr. Wesley Kluck