Whenever Morrison and Newman hook up on a football field, it's a big deal.
The same is true when their graduates butt heads, as they will on Saturday as part of the Alumni Football USA series. Game time is 5 p.m. at Roscoe Eades Stadium in Sterling.
The Mustangs' preparation began in late April, and they've been practicing twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Sundays, ever since. Last Saturday, they practiced at Ashford University in Clinton, on a turf field to replicate what they will play on against Newman.
Today, they'll have a walk-through scrimmage against current Morrison players.
On Saturday, a two-part fundraiser is planned at Hilltop Lanes. Two hogs will be roasted, with meals available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., then again from 7:30 p.m. until the food lasts, with proceeds benefiting Morrison football at all levels.
Those attending the early session will send the players on their way at 1:30 p.m. – and they'll be traveling in style, courtesy of a charter bus.
In the players' minds, they've done everything necessary to get ready for this game.
"It's Newman, so we don't want to look dumb," Greg Pruis, 38 said, "and we really want to win this game."
Tim Stout, who has served as the Morrison varsity line coach and fresh-soph defensive coordinator for the past 17 years, somewhat reluctantly is coaching a lot of his former players. He noted he cherishes his time away from coaching, as football is basically a year-round commitment when weightroom and summer camps are factored in.
He simply couldn't turn down this group when asked to help.
"I came down to a practice, and they were asking a lot of questions and were a little lost," Stout said. "I figured, ah, what the heck."
The Morrison roster will have about 36 players on it, and something in the Mustangs' favor is it tends to be on the young side. It has players from the 2010 and 2012 state championship teams who are not currently playing college football, as well as a strong contingent of players who were on stout squads just before that.
"We finally get to put together our own all-star team, so to speak," Stout said. "There's a lot of all-state, all-conference kids – quite a few of them are walking around with championship rings on their finger."
Stout indicated the Mustangs will be running their traditional offensive and defensive schemes, with a few wrinkles thrown in to perhaps throw off the Comets, as well as to hopefully put on a good show.
"They've seemed to adapt to it pretty well," Stout said.
One of the non X's and O's topics that has been discussed in the Morrison camp has been the levels of success team members have enjoyed, or perhaps not enjoyed, against Newman.
"It's fun watching all the different cultures come through here," said 20-year-old Matt McDonnell. "You hear one group say they beat Newman every time, and the next group says they never beat them. From my era, we split with them quite a bit.
"It's just fun to suit up again so people can get their first win, or maybe get another one, or maybe it'll be the first time they lost to them. Who knows?"
Note: Since 1996, Morrison has gone 6-14 against Newman, but the Mustangs have taken 2 of the 3 playoff battles. They were a 15-12 decision in 2011 and a 14-3 contest in 2006.