Jacksonville-Palestine Rivalry The Stuff Of Legends - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/21/7 - Jacksonville

Jacksonville-Palestine Rivalry The Stuff Of Legends

It's Palestine against Jacksonville.

Or Jacksonville against Palestine.

The way you look at it probably depends on where you live on Highway 79. However you see it, Friday's game is the renewal of one of best and oldest rivalries in East Texas.

"Obviously the distance between the two towns is only 30 miles," Matt Montgomery said, "and when you have that distance between two towns, sometimes there's some families involved."

Matt Montgomery is a Jacksonville native, and longtime broadcaster for the Fighting Indians. By his count, he's seen the last 32 matchups, and every one of them meant more than just another game.

"There were some down times when they weren't in the same district, but the rivalry stayed intense because of the distance and the families. The rivalry has always stayed intact."

Across Highway 79, Judge Bascom Bentley the third is a Palestine native, a lifelong football fan with quite a collection of memorabilia to prove it. He's also seen his share of the rivalry games.

"They had their bad moments," Judge Bentley said, "but it seems like anytime Jacksonville was good, Palestine was good, and vice versa."

Over the course of the rivalry, quite a few quality players have come through this game. From Bill Bradley to Ivory Lee Brown and Adrian Peterson, from Pete Lammons to the McCown brothers, individual games still stand out like snapshots.

"In 1964, Bill Bradley and the Wildcats were down 6-0 in the last minute and a half," Montgomery remembers. "Jacksonville punted, and Bradley ran it all the way back for a touchdown and they won. Palestine went on to win the state championship that year."

Judge Bascom, who had two cousins on that 1964 team, recalls how intense the game was.

"Those guys from Palestine would tell you in a heartbeat that Jacksonville was the team to beat. That night they beat Jacksonville, they had won state, and I think Jacksonville knew that night when they lost it, Palestine won state and it could have been them."

"I think about the 2003 game," Montgomery said, "Adrian Peterson's senior year, Palestine was 5-0, Jacksonville is 0-5 with a new head coach so obviously, Palestine's going to win the game."

"What happens?  Jacksonville wins, goes ahead and runs the table and wins district."

Of course, now that he's in the pros, Montgomery said he can root for AD.

"Oh, everybody in East Texas roots for AD," he laughs. "I think he's a quality person, and he represents us well. It just something Jacksonville players can say."

"'Yeah, he played at the Tomato Bowl, and he never beat us."

Reid Kerr can be reached at rkerr@kltv.com.

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