WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Whether a chilling Coyote or a ravenous Raider, if you ask any student or graduate of Wichita Falls High School or Rider what week they most look forward to, chances are, they’ll say it’s the week of the Old High v.s. Rider football game.
For one last time, graduates and students alike are gearing up for the highly anticipated game.
“Everyone was ecstatic,” Wichita Falls High School graduate and former cheerleader Joetta Burris said. “It was very exciting. It was electrifying. There was just a lot going on that week.”
No matter what side you’re on, Wichita Falls High School graduate, former football player and current coach Dameon Anderson said the rivalry has always garnered ample attention.
“Sidelines for the Old High Rider game was electric because everyone would come back for that,” Anderson said. “Everybody, old alum coming back for that, both Old High and Rider. The stands would be packed. People screaming, people taking pictures.”
While the game itself is exciting, the traditions that have been born out of it have been all the more fun.
“We had pep rallies,” Burris said. “We had Berkley breakfast. We had Rider, having to deal with them coming to our side.”
Anderson also fondly recalled his participation in the activities.
“We had a thing called the Berkley breakfast because back then, Old High-Rider week was homecoming,” he said. “So we had Berkley breakfast, the big parade that goes around the neighborhood.”
Burris also spoke about the excitement of mum day.
“Mum day was all of the cheerleaders, which was all of us,” she said. “We had a whistle, and we wore mums that were huge and dragged the ground and everything. Nobody could speak the whole day of school.”
For mum designers like Old High graduate Joy Vance, the creation of the large accessories has been going on for quite some time.
“I started making hers in junior high,” Vance said. “Everybody saw them, ‘Oh, can you make me one? Can you make me one?’ and we did.”
Despite the excitement, tradition states that you’re supposed to be quiet on mum day.
“So mum day, zip it,” Vance said. “Mum day, don’t say a word until pep rally. All you hear is jingle, jingle, jingle.”
For mother and daughter Coyotes Joy and Crystal Russel and their Bonus Mom Gail, their mums have been the talk of the town when it comes to this rivalry.
“So the past four years have been crazy,” Crystal Russell said. “We have to make the backer around it, make all the ribbons, which we make each one, personalized for every order. The mums used to be one single mum with some trinkets and footballs, and now you’ve seen the majority here, and no two are alike at all, and they’re really neat.”
Coyote blood runs deep in this family.
“That mum right there says it all,” Crystal Russell said, referring to the homemade mums behind her. “Me, ’78, her ’96, my son ’99 and her son: 2013.”
The rivalry is something this mom and son know all too well.
It’s also something former Old High cheerleader Burris can relate to with her son, Tanner Burris. He went to Rider.
“That whole week in any Rider-Old High anything, my friends from Old High would not text me, talk to me, not come over to my house,” Tanner Burris said.
Which is an experience other Rider Raiders said goes back all the way to the class of 1970.
“Everybody always tried to outdo each other with pranks, and we tried not to do anything too ugly, but once in a while, things got a little tacky,” Gail said.
As the countdown continues for the big game, these alumni say they’ll remember these traditions forever and always.
“All the different emotions and everybody’s into it,” Tanner Burris said. “You can’t buy toilet paper, eggs, that’s how bad it gets.”
Intense as the rivalry may be, many former students said they’re grateful for the experiences.
“The memories I will cherish the most are I was able to show my son the rivalry between both,” Burris said. “He grew up with me talking about it all the time, and then he went to Rider and got to experience it all the time.”
While the two schools are entering their final year of education, Anderson wishes the students at both schools well.
“I wish nothing but the best for the future as far as the new schools,” Anderson said. “The tradition will never die. It is what it is with me. I hope it all works out.”
The Coyotes and Raiders? They’ll live on forever.