With their neighboring town locations and high-end "keeping up with the Jones" facilities, Ozark-Nixa has become one of the area's preeminent rivalries. Taking on even more fervor when both teams are good.
"There definitely is," said Nixa head coach Richard Rehagen. "Your players come in and they are definitely motivated. As a coach, you don't have to a lot of motivating this week."
"You should be ecstatic," adds Ozark head coach Mark Bliss. "I think it will be a neat situation. They're expecting anywhere from six-to-eight thousand people for the game from what our athletic director told me. It will be a great crowd and it will be fun to watch."
Ozark enters the game as the 7th ranked team in the state in Class 5. The Tigers have a perfect 6-0 record averaging 53 points-per-game on offense while giving up 13.
Nixa is ranked 9th in the state in Class 5 with a 5-1 record averaging 32 points-per-game while surrendering 10. But that defensive number goes down to allowing just 2 points-per-game if you take out a 49-21 loss to perennial powerhouse Webb City, who's won 87 regular season games-in-a-row. A team that Ozark has to play next week.
When it comes to common opponents, Ozark beat Willard by 29 points while Nixa beat Willard by 28. Ozark bettered Branson by 37 points, Nixa by 33. So on paper at least, it appears to be a great match-up featuring Ozark's high-scoring offense against Nixa's low-scoring defense.
"You really want to minimize (Ozark's) big play," Rehagen said. "They've had some big plays this season and you definitely want to keep them in front of you."
Bliss has his own concerns about Nixa. "What I'm concerned about is that they're a very solid program. They don't have any weaknesses in any phase. We're going to have to go out and play at a very high level and compete hard."
And after all the hype on Friday night, there's still a very good chance with the new Missouri high school playoff format that the two teams could be meeting again in the post-season. Buckle-up!
PICTURES: NIXA VS. WILLARD
PICTURES: OZARK VS. CARTHAGE