For over a century, Leesville and DeRidder have taken the field to create one of the premier area rivalries.

The Wampus Cats and Dragons will battle for the Hooper Trophy for the 57th time Friday night at DeRidder High School.

"What makes it special is the connections to the community," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "It's something the community gets behind. They enjoy the rivalry. When you're the coach, it's what people talk about.

"I always enjoy how the towns and people get. You hear people talking about how they work with a guy from DeRidder, and they are talking about the game. It's about the tie-in to the community. It gives them something that bonds them together."

The rivalry dates back to 1910, when the Dragons defeated Leesville 35-0, however, DeRidder leads the all-time series with 55 wins, 39 loss and four ties.

Since the conception of the Hooper Trophy in 1962, Leesville has 31 wins, 25 losses and a tie.

"We are trying to focus on us," DeRidder head coach Brad Parmley said. "They are a very talented and athletic team. They are top-five for a reason. It's going to be a big challenge for our guys. We're just trying to play good football right now.

"We haven't changed anything at practice. We're going out and focusing on us. The kids have to understand that all the stuff going on outside of our team can't affect us. After the ball is kicked off, it goes away and it's a football game. Once the football game starts, it's about blocking, tackling and doing the right things."

The Wampus Cats have won three straight meetings and will look for their fourth consecutive on Friday night.

"We take a little different approach in our program," Causey said. "We treat everybody the same. Everybody is a threat and someone to respect. You teach your kids to have that type of focus. The week of DeRidder has to be the same focus you match each week. If you can do that, it will prepare you for a long season and the playoffs."

Leesville is coming off its first loss of the season and its first district loss since 2016 after falling 37-35 to Tioga last week.

"One game doesn't make a year," Causey said. "You don't change anything. We just ran out of time is how we're looking at it. Our goal this week has been to get better at things we need to get better at and prepare for DeRidder. Our approach is the same each week, whether we win or lose. You have another opponent you have to prepare for."

DeRidder is out to a 4-2 start and defeated Bolton last week in its district opener with the defense coming up with big-time stops.

The Dragon defense gives up just 14.8 points per game, and outside of the Washington-Marion game, they are only giving up 9.8 points per game.

"They do good job of getting the ball to their athletes on offense and are huge up front," Causey said. "They try to run behind those big offensive linemen. They are strong defensively. They are fast and physical and play within their scheme very well. It's going to be tough moving the ball against them."

Despite its success on defense, Parmley knows their hands will be full trying to contain the team speed of Leesville. The offensive is averaging 41.3 points per game this year.

"Defensively, all 11 guys can run," he said. "The skill guys on offense can take it to the house at any point. They can fly.

"We are going to have to get better as the game goes on. We have to adjust early and keep them from making a play. Hopefully, we can adjust to it as the game goes on."

The DeRidder offense has been up-and-down this year, averaging 21 points per game.

"Our offense is more about being consistent," Parmley said. "We've been good, at times. We have to be better with the football and not getting holding calls at inopportune times."