Top of the Morning, Aug. 18, 2018

Top of the Morning, Aug. 18, 2018

Unlike the towns' high school football teams, employees at sister banks in Arcola and Tuscola get along just fine.

Still, president and CEO DALE BOYER has to be careful when picking out his wardrobe.

"If I'm in a black shirt at the Arcola branch or wear purple to the Tuscola bank, I definitely catch heck for it," said Boyer, a Paxton-Buckley-Loda grad. "Coming from Paxton, I get it. In small towns like these, football is everything."

We're less than two weeks away from the resumption of the Cola Wars, one of the state's most storied prep rivalries.

Earlier in this space, we wrote about commemorative license plates made available to fans of the two programs.

Now, Arcola First Bank and First Federal Bank of Tuscola are marking the moment by handing out T-shirts ahead of the Aug. 31 grudge match.

"It's a great opportunity to celebrate and highlight the re-emergence of this rivalry," Boyer said.

We're doing our part, too, devoting the cover of our annual high school football special section to former Warriors and Purple Riders who remain very much interested in the outcome. The 20-page preview — in which we asked football alums from every area school to tell us what the sport means to their community — will be included in Thursday's News-Gazette.

More than 30 players weighed in, including Arcola's JOHN FISHEL (Class of '78) and Tuscola's PHIL MORRIS (Class of '59).

Wrote Fishel with the rivalry clearly in mind: "I think it's just really neat to have played at a school with the most state championships of any town in the state of Illinois with the letters 'C-O-L-A' in it. Go Big Purp!"