The rivalry resumes

Separated by UIL realignment for two years, the Prosper Eagles and Leopards are once again district rivals

Regardless of the sport, when the Leopards face off against the Prosper Eagles, emotions are at a peak as the schools have established a rivalry that transcends sports. The latest entry in the series takes place Tuesday night as both girls and boys basketball host the Eagles in district play.

Alexa Mapes

Regardless of the sport, when the Leopards face off against the Prosper Eagles, emotions are at a peak as the schools have established a rivalry that transcends sports. The latest entry in the series takes place Tuesday night as both girls and boys basketball host the Eagles in district play.

The fall semester was full of high emotion for the athletic department ranging from a state championship in volleyball to multiple district championships. However, out of all that excitement, some students say that the best part of Leopard athletics is that Prosper is back on the schedule.

The latest installment in the rivalry is Tuesday’s home basketball games. The girls won their game against Prosper on Jan. 9 while the boys lost. But regardless of the sport, when the Leopards and Eagles meet up, it’s a game that attracts more interest than usual.

Who is the Leopards biggest rival?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

“I enjoy the Lovejoy-Prosper rivalry, because the tension is always riding with every game we play against them no matter what sport,” senior Chris Prudhomme said.

According to the Leopard’s athletic director, Jim Bob Puckett, the Leopard-Eagle rivalry started back in 2009. Puckett, who was the head football coach at the time, recalls that the tension between the two schools started on a Friday night in the fall.

“They were the defending 2008 AAA State Football Champions in the Fall of 2009,” Puckett said. “We played them in the Regional Finals at Plano’s Clark Stadium and beat them 24-14 to advance to the State Semi-Finals. There were about 15,000 fans at that game. I guess that is when the real rivalry began.”

Up until the 2011-2012 school year, the Leopards and the Eagles were in the same district. However, after district realignment the two schools separated for two years. However, after being realigned, the rivalry resumed this year.

The tension is always riding with every game we play against them no matter what sport.”

— senior Chris Prudhomme

“I don’t believe the rivalry is different [now than it was before],” Puckett said. “I believe both schools want to compete at the highest level, we have both been very successful and we are within 15-20 minutes of each other.”

However, Puckett doesn’t focus on the rivalry. He believes that players should put the same amount of focus into each game.

“Rivalries, in my opinion, are started and developed by the media,” Puckett said. “Coaches try to keep the players focused on that it is just another game, but then all the players read all the press clippings of this being a rivalry game. This can get the players to become distracted and possibly place too much attention to this one game.”

According to MaxPreps, the Leopards have an all time series lead in football (3-1), volleyball (15-2), and girls basketball (9-0). The Eagles have the lead in baseball (7-4) and softball (3-1) with the teams splitting in boys basketball (4-4).

“Lovejoy and Prosper are very similar, and that is what I think sparks the rivalry,” senior Hunter Pfaff said. “Also they have some certain kids who make us hate them because of their cockiness and arrogance.”

Although the coaches may not make it a big deal, the players feel something extra when playing the Eagles.

“[I mostly look forward to] the environment of our rivalry,” senior basketball player Greg Watson said. “There’s really nothing like walking into a packed gym and having everyone so into it on both sides.”