At the 1A/2A-4 West cross country regional meet Saturday, the principal of Western Yell County High School introduced himself to Ryan Chambers.
He told Chambers, he believed he could switch places with his twin brother Cory, and, like the look-alike films, nobody would be the wiser.
The twins, key members of the 2010 state champion Ratters, will be rather easy to tell apart Friday night because Ryan will be wearing the colors of his alma mater and the older brother, by about a minute, wearing the maroon of the Wolverines.
It is the first time the brothers have opposed one another as high school coaches. Ryan Chambers is in his second year with Magazine and Cory Chamber is in his first at Western Yell after helping out with the Rattlers while working as a long term sub in Magazine last year.
Other than the bragging rights for the winner of a rivalry game, the sibling rivalry title, the stakes for the game are enhanced by the winner landing the final playoff spot from the 2A-4.
That, both coaches say, is what it is really about.
“It’s a big game for both programs. Both teams have struggled the last couple years and this will be a big step in the right direction,” said Ryan Chambers. “Everyone is making this out to be Ryan versus Cory, buts it's about the athletes. It will come down to who executes better for four quarters.”
“I’ve had this one marked down on the schedule this year. I knew that it would probably come down to this win to make the playoffs, and winning against my brother would feel pretty good,” said Cory Chambers. “But this game isn’t about me and Ryan, it’s about all these players that have put in hours and hours of work for this moment.”
Still, there is a Facebook event page for the game that, as of this posting, had 124 attendance confirmations with fans of the respective schools using the hashtags #teamryan and #teamcory to trade jabs.
Western Yell is 3-5 overall but has won back-to-back conference games over Decatur, 45-0, and Friday night got a game winning field goal as time expired to beat Johnson County Westside, 25-22.
Magazine is 4-5 overall and has beaten the same two conference teams, Decatur by a score of 36-0, and Johnson County Westside, 34-14.
So how does Mom feel this week?
“Nervous,” Deborah Chambers said Monday. “We have known since they chose their profession that this would be a real possibility. Cory and Ryan typically have always been on the same team, but when they were on opposite teams, they battled until the end. My prayers are for a safe and competitive game and that each team will display respect, sportsmanship and fight until the last whistle blows. Going to be a long week.”
While the week 11 reward for the winner is a trip to Rison, the loser will no doubt get to hear about it, probably for a long time.