COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa (KWQC) – Louisa-Muscatine traveled to Columbus Junction to take on their long-time rivals Friday night, but when several players needed help during the match up, it didn’t matter which team they were on.
“That’s how football should be, football should be about fun and helping each other up and just good sportsmanship and good sportsmanship leads to good games,” Austin Leopard, a senior at Louisa-Muscatine High School, said.
It wasn’t just about tackles and touchdowns Friday night for the Columbus football team.
“Coach [Symmonds] is always telling us we should have respect and play the game how it should be and play with respect not only towards yourself, your teammates, but to the opposing team,” Ruben Paz, a senior at Columbus Community High School, said.
Coach Scott Symmonds says that’s why it was no surprise to see two of his athletes helping out the competition.
“Sometimes rivalries take on an odd and sometimes ugly character, and I and my coaching staff tried very hard to make sure our athletes understood that that’s not the way that we want to play this game,” Symmonds said.
Three different times during Friday’s game, Louisa-Muscatine players needed help on the field, which Paz and his teammate, Abel Mena say they knew exactly what they needed to do.
“I was just like are you ok?” Paz said. “Then he’s like I’m cramping and I just grabbed his legs I was like where? Calf or hamstring? He said calf so i just started stretching out his calf.”
“I just thought it was the right thing to help him out,” Mena said.
“That was the first time ever in my whole high school career of any sport, having an opponent come out and help you is pretty great,” Leopard said.
It’s a moment Symmonds says he couldn’t be more proud of.
“Wins and losses are wonderful, but coaching great young kids and watching them grow is really, that’s the reward,” Symmonds said.
It was an act of sportsmanship between the rivals, the two teams say they’ll never forget.
“To help me like that is just phenomenal,” Leopard said.
“In the past, it’s been kind of heated, we’ve had some bad moments in the L-M, Columbus history and so it’s great to have kind of an end note like that where the communities came together and we hope to see that again in the future,” Andrew Genz, the head football coach for Louisa-Muscatine said.
Louisa-Muscatine ended up winning the close game on Friday, 19-14.
Coaches and players say they’re looking forward to meeting in the future for this now friendly rivalry.
This Friday, Louisa-Muscatine hosts Wilton and Columbus Junction travels to Wapello. You catch highlights from those games Friday night on the Highlight Zone.