Excitement and uncertainty filled the air at Ogle Stadium as the thousands in attendance wondered what the night would hold for Austin and Decatur high schools. This was the 45th installment of the intense “River City Rivalry” and stakes were high, as the Austin Black Bears were looking for a win that hadn’t occurred since 2006. The two schools share Ogle Stadium on the Decatur campus, though Austin was this year’s home team, adding more fuel to the rivalry fire. The day before the game, Decatur coaches said to watch out for Ryan Watson and his speed and they were right.
Torin is a senior tight end and two-year letterman on the Raiders Varsity Football Team. He carries a 4.42 GPA and is a student in the International Baccalaureate Program. Torin is also Student Council President and a member of the National Honor Society, and represented Decatur High at Boy’s State. He is the son of Joe and Kathy Dupper.
Artavious Birdsong is a senior linebacker for the Austin Bears and carries a 3.97 GPA. He is ranked in the top 10 of his senior class and is a member of the Austin Ambassadors Student Council. Artavious has been a two-year starter on the football team, and part of the state finalist 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams. He is the son of John and Linda Birdsong.
Watson scored the first touchdown of the game on a run that displayed the speed his coaches talked about. It took only a few plays for Watson to get his second touchdown, as he intercepted a pass and took it to the house for a "pick six." Austin would score next after moving the ball as a unit and with 5:47 left in the 2nd quarter. We had a ball game. The next score in the game wouldn't occur until 11:17 of the third quarter when quarterback Ben Neill, MVP of last year's game, connected with this year's eventual MVP, Torin Dupper, on a touchdown pass which put the Red Raiders up 21-7. Austin fought hard in the second half and showed the same heart that their coach has - a big one - but just couldn't put it all together when they needed to. As Ryan Watson intercepted his second pass of the night with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter, it was evident that it was simply Decatur's night. Air Force personnel presented Decatur's proud coach and team with their second Great American Rivalry Series Champion Trophy during an intimate locker room ceremony after the game. All in all, the atmosphere was great, the football was intense, and the players, fans, coaches and the town were all first-class, making it easy to see why this game is in the Great American Rivalry Series.
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