By Kayleigh Rahn
While the Friday night lights at Tuscola Community High School’s Memorial Field won’t light up the Douglas County sky for several months yet, the Arcola and Tuscola communities have one date circled on their calendars: Friday, Aug. 31–the return of the Cola Wars.
For the first time since the 2011 semifinal game and in regular season play since 2006, the county rivals will clash on the gridiron.
To help wind up Warrior fans and celebrate the rival tradition the Tuscola Alumni Association is offering black and gold faithful an opportunity to show their school spirit with specialty license plates commemorating the game.
The Alumni Association fundraiser is available to anyone with a vehicle registered in the state of Illinois, and fans can get their hands on a set of plates by preregistering at any Tuscola bank by Monday, Feb. 26, explained Alumni association members Marci Shoemaker and Bruce Wood. The 60-day plates will be road legal July 3 through Aug. 31 and cost $30. Though, drivers can of course keep their plates as local memorabilia commemorating the big game.
The Arcola alumni are joining in the fun, as well, by selling their version of Cola War plates to Rider fans.
“We’ll have both communities displaying their license plates throughout the state of Illinois and beyond promoting this age old rivalry between two communities that are nine miles apart,” Wood said. “They will have a plate that looks a bit different; I’m sure with a bit more purple.”
The Cola War tradition is nearly as old as the football legacy in Douglas County. According to “History of Tuscola Football” written by Rick McGuire and Mike Carroll in 1989, Tuscola High School fielded its first team in 1895 when it lost its only game to Rantoul. The following season Tuscola suited up twice, once for a Rantoul rematch and again for the cross-county battle with Arcola, though the local boys lost 16-0.
“Arcola may have a record that the games began earlier than that,” Wood noted.
The 2018 game will serve as the 105th meeting of the two teams with Tuscola holding a near edge in the series, 54-44-6.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 31 edition of The Tuscola Journal.