People from Oneida and people from Scott High might not agree on much when it comes to high school sports, but one thing they can agree on, apparently, is that the Indians and the Highlanders should square off on the gridiron.
In the aftermath of Oliver Springs’ cancelation of its scheduled game against Oneida on Friday, the Independent Herald published an op-ed saying there’s never been a better time or a better reason for Scott and Oneida — which last met in football 39 years ago — to play each other. Scott High’s game against Austin-East, which was scheduled for Friday, had already been canceled.
A social media discussion of the merits of the hypothetical matchup followed on both Facebook and Twitter, with widespread support for scheduling the game. Parents, players, former players, teachers and even administrators from either school chimed in, with virtually all of them signaling their desire to see the game played. The Twitter accounts of Oneida and Scott High students — @BarstoolOneida and @CoonskinCrazies — engaged in good-natured, back-and-forth trash-talking as if it were actually game week.
“This needs to happen, then continue every year,” said a member of the Oneida Special School District Board of Education in a text to the Independent Herald.
Mark Matthews, a former member of the OSSD Board of Education and an Oneida business owner who is color commentator for Oneida football, chimed in on Twitter to say, “So I understand both Oneida and Scott have been canceled…let’s get together and play a football game.”
“I’m putting this out on the air tomorrow. This needs to happen,” tweeted WBNT radio personality Travis Selvidge, who co-hosts Thursday Night Sports Talk with BJ Gislason.
To be clear, the Independent Herald has spoken to neither Oneida head coach Jimmy May or Scott High head coach Josh Terry about their thoughts on a potential matchup. Former Oneida coach Tony Lambert, who left earlier this year to accept a role as co-defensive coordinator at University of the Cumberlands, was always adamant that he would never schedule a game between the two teams, including when he was head coach at Scott High in 2011. His successor, May, said as recently as fall camp that he would not be interested in a game against the Highlanders.
May is also the athletics director at Oneida.
Scott High has not officially chimed in on the possibility of the two schools playing, either, but the school’s athletics director, Eric Henry, retweeted the IH’s opinion piece stating that the two schools should play. The school’s official athletics Twitter account, @TheFarmSHSAthletics, also retweeted the story.
Separately, the Independent Herald learned that Scott High would be interested in discussing the possibility of scheduling a game, and would also be willing to discuss the possibility of playing such a potential game at Oneida’s Jim May Stadium. Both teams were scheduled to be at home this week.
The two teams last met in 1982, when Jim May was the coach at Oneida and Jack Diggs was the coach at Scott High. The two schools couldn’t agree on a game date in 1983, and so the rivalry was not scheduled for that year. The two teams never met again in football, though they have played in every other sport since that time.
As it currently stands, neither Oneida and Scott High will have a game this Friday. That would shorten both their seasons to nine games, though each would get a covid win for their official record. The Indians would be down to just three home games.
Friday night was also supposed to have been homecoming night at Oneida, with spirit week festivities already underway at the school. A homecoming parade is scheduled for Friday morning.
The overwhelming support for a game notwithstanding, an actual game being scheduled between the two teams seems like a long shot, since there has been a reluctance to renew the rivalry for the past 40 years, even as former players have increasingly clamored for the series to resume.
That didn’t stop anyone from wishing for a game, however. And several leading businesses in Oneida and Scott County signaled their support for such a matchup.
“Let’s see an Oneida vs. Scott game this Friday,” tweeted former Highlander pep club president Sawyer Roberts. “Might have to come back to see history be made…”
Plenty of other folks sounded off, as well.
“Many students for years have been waiting for this matchup. Let’s make this happen,” said Oneida senior Noah James.
And, added Scott High senior Claudia Harness, “There is nothing in this world that I would want more than to see this happen.”
Erica Zachary, whose son is a middle school football player at Oneida, said the game would allow the kids to play and add to their high school experience.
“It’s not just for the athletes on the field but for all those young ladies who are homecoming candidates, all the fans, coaches, parents and students who will remember football homecoming for years to come,” said Zachary. “Why not let them enjoy it and make memories to have? These are wonderful years in their lives and I know there is a lot going on now and who knows what other games may be canceled, so if we have the opportunity to do (it) for these kids and also for our county, I say let’s do it.”
Sarah Dunlap, sports photographer at Oneida, said simply, “Let them play.”
And Joyce Bond, grandmother of Oneida quarterback Caden Rector, said, “Play ball.”
Noah Buttram, an Oneida senior who started his career at Scott High before transferring, said, “Why is this a thing when I’m out? If this happens I’ll be back Friday.” Buttram is currently out with a concussion.
And Kolby Morgan, the former Oneida standout who is now playing for the University of Tennessee, added that the two teams should’ve played last year.
Scott High basketball coach Jordan Jeffers posted a schedule of Highlander sporting events scheduled for Thursday, saying, “Highlander athletics this week, well Thursday at least … unless something else pops up on Friday,” followed by red and orange icons.
But Oneida junior lineman Isaac Morgan underscored the likelihood of such a game actually taking place, responding to the back-and-forth between the two schools’ student Twitter accounts by saying, “All this trash talking for a game that has the same chances of me running a 4 flat.”