In terms of surprises, upsets and games of relevance, the East Mills/Stanton football series is arguably the most interesting fall rivalry in the Corner Conference. But for all the great games between the two teams, its a game that didn't get played 10 years ago that sets this rivalry apart from the others.
Malvern and Nishna Valley combined to form East Mills and started to play fall sports in 2007. The Wolverines were ineligible that season for the playoffs that season but played a full nine game schedule, winning all nine by a considerable margin. EM didn't play a tough schedule that year, but they did put one sided beatings on Essex and CAM. Both were top 15 teams in the state, and Essex was arguably top10. The Trojans made the playoffs that year, losing in overtime in the first round to Walnut.
As fate would have it, the Corner Conference was split in two that season. EM, Fremont-Mills, Sidney, Farragut, Essex and Hamburg in one district. Souh Page, Villisca and Stanton were in the other. That's the 2007 Stanton team. The Vikings were the eventual state champions that season with a perfect 13-0 record. Two teams, both unbeaten and thusly the debate began.
Interestingly, CAM played both EM and Stanton that year, as well as Walnut and ArWeVa all of whom were unbeaten after the eighth week of the season. When Cougar head Coach Joe Wollums was asked who was the best of those four teams before the playoffs started his response was immediately, "It's tough for me to imagine anyone beating Stanton."
The BCMoore computer ranked East Mills fourth and would have made the Vikings nine point favorites on a neutral field. Still, games aren't played on paper and speculation went on for months as to who the better team was. The two teams did play each season after that, with Stanton winning each year from 2008-2010, but 2011 was an entirely different story.
The 2011 Wolverines handled Stanton 48-12 and went on to thrash every team it played that year not called Fremont-Mills en route to an 11-2 season. The Knights were state champions that season. That glorious, often neglected, East Mills team was the second best 8man team in Mills County, the Corner Cofnerence, the district, and the whole state of Iowa. No other team, not even Armstrong Ringstead, would have bested the unlucky Wolverines that season.
East Mills spent two season in 11 man football before dropping back down to eights in 2014 when they marched into Stanton heavy favorites (20+ BCMoore), but the Vikings roared to a 30-0 lead before holding on for the 66-54 win. 2015 was the reverse with Stanton being slightly favored before East Mills got a pick six from Miguel Sanchez that led to a 40-24 Wolverine win. Stanton was a little too much for EM last season winning 28-6.
What will 2017 bring? Both teams are in a little bit of a rebuilding mode, but I think its fair to call Stanton the favorite, especially with the human wrecking ball Dillion Rocha and Drake "The Snake" Johnson on the field, but I've been wrong on this game before. I plan to be there and I will find out if I'm wrong or right then.
I think Stanton would have wobn the 2007 game ten years ago. I'll never know if I'm wrong or right about that one though. Come find me at a game sometime if you want to discuss it, or anyone other matchup, theoretical or real life.
The 2007 Wolverines were unbeaten, untied and uncrowned. Nothing will ever change that.