Parmer County rivals battle for berth in playoffs

A quote from Farwell High School senior Grant Gregory is written on the chalkboard in the Bovina High School football locker room. The quote came from an interview with the Amarillo Globe-News. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Eric Butler

BOVINA — Sporting goods shop owners would be impressed by the collection of football helmets in the Bovina football locker room.
In one long row, there is a helmet of each team the Mustangs have played this year. For the ones that Bovina has defeated, the helmet has been unceremoniously turned upside down.
There’s probably no greater wish at that school this year that the head gear with the Farwell Steers’ emblem on it — the last one in the row — will likewise be pointing down after Friday’s game.
Bovina (6-3) hosts Farwell (7-1) in a game that would generate local fervor in any circumstance. This year, though, the Mustangs and Steers will be battling for a playoff spot, with the winner earning the second of two playoff berths in District 4-1A.
“It’s a rivalry regardless of whether there’s any playoff implications,” Farwell High principal Gary Cates said. “That’s something we learn here early — don’t lose to Bovina.”
The Steers haven’t had to suffer that fate very often lately. Bovina’s last victory over Farwell came in 1991, when the Mustangs won 9-0.
Still, longtime Farwell citizens like superintendent Larry Gregory, who graduated in 1966, can remember enough losses to recall how the town reacts when it does happen.
“We try to find some other reason for it; it’s the referees or something else,” Gregory said. “We try to rationalize it.”
Gregory noted that the Parmer County rivals naturally know quite a bit about the other.
“We have a lot in common. It’s an agricultural community, the farmers know each other and have competed against each other,” Gregory said.
Families who have ties to both schools are hard to find.
Gregory, who’s also the school’s athletic director, said he can only think of one student whose parents went to school in Bovina. Freshman Britton Barrett’s father J.B. was a Mustang while in high school, he said.
“He’s finally seen the light,” Gregory quipped.
Bovina standout running back Jonathan Chisom’s older cousin Curtis Chisom was part of a 400-meter state relay qualifying team from Farwell in 1988.
“He lives in Greenville (Texas) now. I make fun of him a lot for going to school in Farwell, but he doesn’t say anything,” said Jonathan, who has piled up 1,348 rushing yards this fall.
Bill Bizzell, principal at Bovina High, knows the rivalry first-hand. Bizzell has previously (1998-2002) served in the same capacity at Farwell.
“Of course, you have to root for your home team, but that’s tough because I used to be principal at Farwell for four years,” Bizzell said.
“It’s a strong rivalry,” he added. “It’s like the Clovis-Hobbs rivalry. They compete in everything, whether it’s FFA or whatever. And they want to win in everything.”