WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — On Friday, August 25, 2023, the Wichita Falls Coyotes and the Rider Raiders, two longtime crosstown high school football rivals, will meet on the gridiron for the very last time.
The entire week leading up to the big game, our team at KFDX and KJTL is bringing a series of stories about the two high schools, their football teams, and their traditions.
To kick off our special reports on the conclusion of this storied rivalry, Evening Anchor Darrell Franklin and Chief Photographer Curtis Jackson take a look at the history surrounding the schools, and of course, their oftentimes very tense rivalry.
The foundation of the rivalry
Rider High School opened up in the fall of 1961, but it was not until 1964 that its varsity football team would go head-to-head with Wichita Falls High School’s already legendary program.
Almost right away, it was on.
“They have a rivalry now, but you can’t imagine what it was like,” Joey Aboussie, WFHS All-State Running Back in 1969, said.
“There were some pretty good competitive, kill the Coyotes and so forth,” Jim Marks, Rider Class of 1965 said.
“It was out of control rivalry,” Joe Golding, WFHS Class of 1969 said.
“Yeah, we were kind of the second step child,” Lena Burt, Rider Class of 1963 said. “Until we started beating them,” Bob Burt, Rider Class of 1963 said.
When Shirley Foley was born in October 1921, construction was just beginning on the current Wichita Falls High School. During Foley’s years as a Coyote, S.H. Rider was still the principal, and during her senior year, the football team went to state.
“They went to state for the first time in history,” Foley said. “Jumping up and down, shouting…every Friday night we were down at the canyon, filling it up.”
WFHS dominates first meetings
WFHS would be back in the state championship game several times, coming out victorious in 1941, 1949, 1950, 1958, 1961 and 1969, becoming one of the greatest football programs in Texas high school football history.
“When I was 8, 9, 10 and 11, we made it all the way to the state championship game, every year,” Golding said. “It was quite an experience.”
Golding said he remembers it well, even riding the bus with the players, and his dad, the great Coach Joe Golding.
When Rider was constructed in the very early 1960s, along with Hirschi High School, Golding left coaching behind to become athletic director over all the high schools and not just WFHS.
Rider quickly becomes a force
Jim Marks was in Rider’s first freshman class. He said he remembers just how quickly the players grew in size and talent.
“We didn’t have a senior class in football and baseball and so forth,” Marks said. “It was pretty rough. But, as those kids matured, we began to grow in sports and became more of a winning school.”
“First two years they had a losing record,” Bob & Lena Burt said. “Then the 3rd year they beat Old High the first two games they played, believe it or not.”
“We stole some of their good players who left Wichita and came to Rider or we wouldn’t have had teams,” Daisy Sligar said. “We had some good teams.”
Sligar was at Rider on the first day, and while coaching tennis, she saw first hand the rivalry with Old High develop in all activities and sports. Maybe, she was even a little part of it.
“It was fun for us to beat Wichita Falls High because we were new and they were such an old school,” Sligar said.
“He took tremendous pride in Rider, for the accomplishments they had, man you go back to Joe Bob Tyler, Bub Deerinwater, James Vanderslice, I mean all Americans that were great, great football players,” Golding said.
The crosstown rivalry grows
“Even the year we won state, we only beat Rider, I think it was 14 to nothing,” Aboussie said. “I can’t remember exactly but it was one or two touchdowns is all, and they were a good team. They had Tommy Isbell. They had a lot of good players.”
And by then, Aboussie, Old High’s All-State running back who scored the last touchdown in Coyote Canyon and the first in Memorial Stadium, said the rivalry had grown into something very big.
“Hirschi wasn’t in our district,” Aboussie said. “They were a 3A school. So, the rivalry really was heightened with Rider and Wichita Falls High because we were in the same classification in the same district, and back then, one school went to the playoffs.”
“Old High was THE High,” the Burt’s said. “They had championships. At that time they had 5, and here’s little brother. And that’s kind of how it was looked at. We were kind of the second step child, until we started beating them.”
“Out of control rivalry,” Golding said. “I mean they would have 75 car caravans driving through neighborhoods and stuff.”
“I tell you, I was looking through the annual and there were some pretty good competitive, kill the Coyotes and so forth,” Marks said. “And I’m sure they said the same thing about kill the Raider, kill Rider. But, yeah it was competitive.”
“They have a rivalry now, but you can’t imagine what it was like,” Aboussie said. “I had people coming over at night putting signs in my yard, threats, and it was crazy. The whole town was on one side or the other.”
The final chapter of the rivalry
It’s a rivalry that after six decades is coming to an end. But, as the last pep rally signs are being made, with two new high schools nearer to completion each day, there’s no doubt the memories will last forever.
“It wasn’t a job, it was fun,” Sligar said.
And the desire to win this Friday night, one final time, will be as strong for both sides as it ever was.
When Rider and Old High meet on the football field for the last time on Friday night, it will mark the 62nd time the teams have battled on the gridiron.
The two teams have met twice on the field in a single season, in 1966 and 2019. And, while WFHS has six UIL State Championships compared to Rider’s none, the Raiders have been victorious in 40 of the rivalry match-ups compared to the Coyote’s 18 wins.
Three of those match-ups have ended in a tie.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available.