Hall High opened its doors and started playing football in 1957. As a new school with a largely younger student body, it only played smaller schools that initial season. The first Hall vs. Central game was set for Thanksgiving 1958 (November 27).
During the 1958-1959 school year, Little Rock’s high schools were closed for the ill-conceived, ill-advised reason to keep them from being integrated schools. Though classes were not in session, football teams practiced and played. The Arkansas Gazette noted that most of those games that season drew only 1,000 spectators, which was down from the usual 5,000 to 8,000 a game.
With the future of Little Rock’s high schools in doubt, there was some hand wringing about whether the 1958 Thanksgiving Day game would be not only the first meeting between Hall and Central, but perhaps also the last.
In only its second year of playing, Hall was undefeated and poised to win the state championship heading into the Thanksgiving game. Central surprised the Warriors by winning 7-0 before a crowd of 5,000, which cost Hall the undefeated season and the championship (El Dorado became state champs). This game set the tone for the high stakes of the rest of the series.