Friends to foes: King, Rushing lead teams into rivalry game to open season
NATCHEZ — David King knew at an early age that Ron Rushing would have success in football.
When King was a high school athlete at Adams County Christian School, he helped coach Rushing’s pee wee football team and could already see the qualities that make Rushing a great coach, King said.
“I knew he was a great player when he was in seventh grade,” King said. “That kid was one of the toughest to ever come out of ACCS. He has high morals, he’s a hard worker and very enthusiastic.”
Later Rushing served as assistant coach under King at Trinity Episcopal School and learned a great deal about the game, he said.
“I learned a lot of the X’s and O’s,” Rushing said. “I think I coach similar to him. He wants to try to attack and stresses work ethic.”
King said the relationship between the two coaches has continued to grow over the years, and they talk frequently.
“We’ve been like brothers for 30 years,” King said.
Tonight the two friends will take the freshly-painted field at Cathedral’s D’Evereux Stadium for the first time as opposing head coaches. But both King and Rushing do not see tonight’s game as an individual challenge between coaches.
“Both of us just want to get this game over with and get on with the rest of the season,” King said. “But Ron is just like me, and of course we both want to win, and we’re both ultra competitive. We just want to go over there and represent our school the best we can.”
Rushing said bragging rights would not be on the line tonight.
“We call and talk all the time, but we don’t talk about the game,” Rushing said.
Rushing said the rivalry is not fueled by bitterness, and he still roots for his alma mater when they are not sharing the same field as Cathedral. He said he was happy to hear King took the job as headmaster and head football coach this summer.
“I was excited for him and the school,” Rushing said. “He’s brought a lot of excitement to the football program, and as headmaster he’s already done so much. The campus looks great. He’s done a great job.”
The two schools are coming off completely different 2011 seasons. ACCS finished a 2-9 record, while Cathedral won 12 games and made it to the South State Championship game.
King said he knows the Rebels will face a challenge tonight.
“Cathedral has an established program, and we are in our first game,” King said. “Our boys are going to work hard, and we just have to do what we can. There are a lot of obstacles. We’re on the road with a new staff and a whole new system. We have to play well in all phases to keep it close.”
The Rebel players appear to be ready for the challenges ahead, King said.
“I think they are anxious to see if they’ve improved upon last year,” he said. “I think the fans will be excited about how hard we’re playing.”
Rushing said he hopes to take advantage of Cathedral’s depth and conditioning, two factors he considers to be advantages for the Green Wave this season.
“We’re hoping to keep up the tempo on offense,” Rushing said.
Rushing said he is concerned about the Rebels’ playmakers on offense and the different looks ACCS will show on defense.
No matter which team ends up on top on the scoreboard, both coaches said they hope the game lives up to the level of excitement that has built up around the matchup.
“At the end of the day, five years from now, it won’t matter that much,” King said. “But it’s good for the community to have (local teams) playing each other.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at Cathedral.