DERIDDER — The 96th meeting between the Leesville Wampus Cats and the DeRidder Dragons at 7 p.m. tonight at Cecil Doyle Memorial Stadium has a little more importance this year for the Wampus Cats.

DERIDDER — The 96th meeting between the Leesville Wampus Cats and the DeRidder Dragons at 7 p.m. tonight at Cecil Doyle Memorial Stadium has a little more importance this year for the Wampus Cats.

At stake for Leesville (5-4, 3-1) are a number of things. First, with a win, the Cats can take a share of the District 3-4A title. Secondly, they would even the Hooper Trophy VII series at a game apiece, bringing some hardware home to display in the trophy case. But most importantly, a victory could solidify Leesville as a top 16 seed, giving the Cats their first home playoff game since 2010, when they beat, you guessed it, DeRidder.

“I fully expect for emotions to be high,” Leesville head coach Robbie Causey said. “Last year, they overpowered us and we expect them to try that again. Plus, we know they are going to want to play spoiler since this is basically a playoff game for DeRidder.”

The Dragons (2-7, 1-3) will play their final game of the season tonight as they have no chance of slipping into the Class 4A playoffs, unlike Leesville, which is already earned its spot.

Causey expects the Dragons to do what they’ve always done — play great defense and pound the ball at you offensively.

“I think points will be sparse, so every yard is going to count,” Causey said. “They will try to run it right at us. Their fullback is a hoss and they are very capable of moving the ball down the field with him and their two tailbacks.

“Defensively, they are very athletic,” Causey added. “They have some very good players out there, including an inside linebacker and a couple of linemen. And they will be looking to play spoiler, so we have to be prepared.”

Last year, the Dragons took advantage of a slipping Wampus Cat squad, defeating Leesville at Wampus Cat Stadium rather easily, 56-20, capturing the Hooper Trophy.

The DeRidder-Leesville football rivalry has been known as the Hooper Trophy Series since the 1962 season, and been one of many highlights and fierce games on the gridiron.

In the early 1960s, Leesville resident L.S. ‘‘Buck’’ Hooper, a graduate of Leesville High School, and his wife, Agnes Lewis Hooper, a graduate of DeRidder High School, decided to donate a trophy for the football rivalry.

The Hoopers decided the school winning the most games for every 10 seasons, or the first team to win six games, would take permanent possession of the trophy for its school. The winning team each year gets temporary possession of the trophy.

Leesville won Hooper Trophy I for the seasons from 1962-1972. DeRidder claimed the Hooper Trophy II for the years 1973-1979.

Leesville captured Hooper Trophy III for the 1980-1987 seasons.

DeRidder then won the Hooper Trophy IV series, six games to four. DeRidder defeated Leesville, 14-12, in 1997 in Leesville and beat the Wampus Cats, 25-7, in 1996 in Leesville.

The Hooper Trophy IV series began with two straight DeRidder wins, 17-16 in 1988 and 14-7 in 1989. Leesville won 15-0 in 1990. DeRidder scored a 16-12 win in 1991, while Leesville won 13-12 in 1992. The 1993 matchup saw DeRidder win 24-14, while Leesville would take the next two games, 28-0 in 1995 and 15-6 in 1995.

After the death of ‘‘Buck’’ Hooper, the two principals at that time — Bob McLamore of DeRidder High School and Richard Reese of Leesville High School — decided to continue the Hooper Trophy, with the two schools buying the trophy.

According to all available information, DeRidder leads the all-time series over Leesville, 55-36-4. During the Hooper Trophy Series, the rivalry leans in Leesville's favor at 28-25-1.

Three games played since 1962 have not counted in the Hooper Trophy standings, a bi-district playoff game in 1963 when DeRidder defeated Leesville, 34-19, a regional playoff game in 1995 when Leesville defeated DeRidder, 29-0, and a bi-district playoff game in 2010, a Leesville win.

In 2005, the game wasn't played when Hurricane Rita forced the teams to cancel games due to widespread damage and power outages in west central Louisiana.

The longest winning streak for the DeRidder Dragons in Hooper Trophy Series games is nine games. That winning streak included the last two games of the Hooper Trophy I series, and all seven games of the Hooper Trophy II series.

The first game of the Hooper Trophy II series was a 6-6 tie in 1973 at Leesville.

The longest winning streak for the Leesville Wampus Cats in the Hooper Trophy Series is 10 games, which lasted from 1998-2008. During those 10 straight wins, the Wampus Cats scored 30 or more points seven times and outscored DeRidder, 345-87.

If you are unable to make it to the game, it can be heard live on 93.5-FM KJAE with Sam Fertitta, Jr. and Jeff Skidmore on the call.