The energy of Tuesday’s storm was perhaps matched only by the intensity within Carbondale Community High School’s gym as the Carbondale Terriers and the Murphysboro Red Devils continued their long-running boys basketball rivalry.
Amidst the crowd’s thunderous roars and the wail of the school band’s guitarist, the packed varsity matchup ended 70-33 in Carbondale’s favor.
“Little kids in Murphysboro grow up wanting to play Carbondale, and kids that grow up in Carbondale want to play Murphysboro,” Carbondale principal Daniel Booth said. “It’s such a long-lasting rivalry. It’s good for our kids. Both crowds are always excited, they are waiting for the night.”
Murphysboro student Dylan Miley said there’s a lot of back and forth banter on Facebook between the two towns.
“We have our years, and they have theirs,” Miley said.
Despite the team’s close proximity to each other, the rivalry has seen fewer matchups because of the difference in students enrolled to the respective schools. Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy said Murphysboro’s enrollment has increased to 600, which is about half of Carbondale’s, since he started coaching about
18 years ago. With larger enrollment comes more possible
incoming talent, and Carbondale moved to a higher bracket and out of Murphysboro’s division in 2008. Despite the potential talent difference, Murphysboro has recently seen the more successful program.
Coach Murphy holds the most wins as head coach in Red Devils history with 312. The Red Devils have a record of 73-17, 9-13 so far this season during the past three seasons, including runs to regionals and sectionals in the last two seasons.
Carbondale has seen similar success under current coach Jim Miller. His 259 wins as
Carbondale’s coach ranks him second only behind coach Doug Woolard’s 283 he set in his 14 years from ’75-’89.
“I’ve known Daryl for many years now,” Miller said. “He’s a great competitor. His teams are always well prepared. It’s been a pleasure having that kind of rivalry and having a good friend that sits on the opposite bench.”
Coach Miller’s last four meetings against his friend and rival have a 2-2 record.
Aside from the blowout Tuesday night, the games have been close and decided by an average 8.3 points.
“It hasn’t been based on the talent of either team,” Miller said. “It’s that rivalry that doesn’t
matter who has the better team. It’s always going to be a very competitive game, and we know that going in. It brings the best out of both teams.”
The rivalry’s relationship is best shown by Joe Hamilton, former Carbondale player and current Carbondale assistant coach. Hamilton reminisced about the intensity he felt as a player who faced Murphysboro players such as brothers Travis and Bobby Kellum. Years later, he said he finds himself uniquely connected with the rivalry beyond his playing years.
“It’s always good to have the bragging rights and to know who is the best in Jackson County,” Hamilton said.
“My wife is one of the Kellums, back in the day me and her brothers were rivals … We talk about times that they beat us and we beat them. It’s all a good debate but it’s all fun and games.”
The rivalry’s proximity and intensity creates a unique experience for both schools’ students and one principle Booth doesn’t want to be without.
“It’s good for the kids, and that’s what it’s all about,” Booth said. “These are four years that the kids will never forget. They will never forget the Carbondale-Murphysboro games. That’s something I’d feel bad about if the next generation of kids wouldn’t be able to experience it.”