Rivalry renewed: programs battle for city dominance

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Colin Conway

Tommy Beeler (12) celebrates after the Falcons secured victory in the 2015 SPC Championship with a defensive stop. Photo by David Shutts.
Tommy Beeler (12) celebrates after the Falcons secured victory in the 2015 SPC Championship with a defensive stop. Photo by David Shutts.

Falcons take on Episcopal in first rematch after SPC Championship

BY COLIN CONWAY & WILLIAM SCOTT

At seven o’clock tonight when the annual Kinkaid-Episcopal rivalry game kicks off, a rematch that has been 329 days in the making will commence. One year ago, Kinkaid shocked Episcopal in a 31-27 upset victory in the 2015 SPC Championship, capping off a magical season for the Falcons.

The Knights were not only 9-1 in the season last year going into SPC, but they had dominated Kinkaid in each of their three prior match-ups. The Falcons parlayed their best performance of the season into a reversal of the trend. Johnathon Thomas (11) rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns while Hayden Rome (11) executed three onside kicks to lead the Falcons to the coveted SPC title.

The three previous Episcopal victories included the devastating 2014 SPC Championship, where the Knights soundly beat the Falcons by 44-20. Since 2013—when the current seniors were freshmen—the two teams have battled it out five times, with Falcons taking home two contests to the Knights’ three. Pride is definitely involved: The programs have met twice in the SPC Championship, each walking away with one win since 2013. (Kinkaid also took home the trophy in 2013, in a game against St. Mark’s.)

Both schools have seen great success the past three and a half seasons in terms of wins-versus-games-played ratios. Episcopal has played to an overall 30-7 win/loss record (17-4 in SPC conference play), while Kinkaid has had a 29-9 overall record (19-5 in SPC conference play) in the same time period. These records have been driven by strong players; since 2013, 11 former Falcons and seven former Knights went on after as commits to play football at the college level. Episcopal also boasts two current blue chip recruits in seniors Walker Little and Marvin Wilson, both of whom are ranked in the top 25 overall high school football players in the country.

This tremendous amount of talent that the Knights possess may be a road block, but the Falcons are ready to dodge any obstacle.

“We just have to play our game and not let who we are playing affect our game plan, and we can absolutely not take any plays off,” said Kirby Cravens (12), a receiver on the team. The senior pass catcher emphasized that the game is “different because they are our rivals, but the week of practice is not. We try to keep the same intensity for every single practice but the game is obviously different.”

Cravens, who is playing his fifth game against the Knights tonight, said, “The atmosphere of the game is not the same as an average game. We’re more excited, the fans are more excited, and the win means more to each team.” Cravens also said the team is on a mission to prove that last year “wasn’t a fluke” and that the Falcons can “compete with [the Knights].”

While these schools have enjoyed recent successes, both have dominated the SPC for decades. Between the two schools, they have taken home eight of the last 13 SPC championships, and 20 of the 33

SPC Championships since Episcopal was founded in 1983. This rivalry between the two programs dates back decades.

These two heavyweights will do battle once again tonight at Simmons Field, with this bout being as big as ever. The game tonight not only has a lot on the line with postseason seeding, but both teams have much to prove, and also much to lose, after last season’s SPC championship game.