Since the early 1960s, the Arkansas Activities Association had been discouraging the playing of games on Thanksgiving Day. With the advent of state playoffs, these Thanksgiving games were an interruption.
By 1982, only one such rivalry still existed. The Little Rock Central vs. Little Rock Hall game. Both schools were in the largest classification (5A) which did not have playoffs.
With the changes of state athletic conference classification, the 1982 game was announced as the final Thanksgiving Day game between Hall and Central. The top two classifications were being combined which would necessitate conferences and playoffs to determine the state champion. This would mean that Hall and Central would need to meet before Thanksgiving. Going into the game Hall led the series with 13 wins to Central’s 8 wins.
The 1982 edition lived up to the hype. Played on November 25, 1982, this was the 25th edition of the Hall and Central rivalry. While there was no doubt that Hall would end up with the most wins, Central wanted to make sure that they ended it in the way they started it in 1958 – with a win.
Central boasted a 4-1 record. Pine Bluff and LR Parkview were both 4-1-1. Hall was 3-0-2. As long as Central or Hall won outright, the winner would be state champ. A tie (and there had been three previous ones) would result in a four-way tie for first place. Hall’s coach C. W. Keopple had led the team since 1964 and amassed a 10-6-1 record against Central. The Tigers were mentored by Bernie Cox who was 4-3 against the Warriors since taking over in 1975.
Nearly 9,000 fans packed Quigley Stadium for a cold but dry day. As the buzzer sounded after four quarters, the Hall High Warriors were jubilant. They had won the game 14-3 after putting together a nearly flawless offensive effort. The win moved them into first place with a 4-0-2 record. Central, which had sat atop the conference most of the season, ended up in fourth place with a 4-2 record. The defeat also ended the Tiger’s hopes for a third consecutive championship. This game, like so many before it, provided high drama and excitement as it confounded some pundits yet also lived up to billing.
And with that, the series concluded. In the end, Hall had fourteen wins while Central had eight. There were also three hard-fought ties. Central achieved four shutouts of Hall, while the Warriors blanked the Tigers three times. In the twenty-five games, Central scored 228 points, and Hall scored 297 points.
From 1983 until 2005, Hall and Central continued to play each other in football. This time, they played for the ceremonial bell in what became known as “The Battle for the Bell.” Today, the bell is proudly displayed at Quigley Stadium. After 2005, Hall moved into a lower classification than Central. This put them on separate trajectories facing different sets of teams.
This year the two teams played a football scrimmage. In 2020 they will face each other in a regular season football game again.