SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Kickapoo and Parkview high schools have long fielded two of the bigger programs in the state of Missouri.

This week, however, the two schools came together in an effort to increase involvement.

“We just wanted the opportunity to kind of work with all those kids together, us and Kickapoo’s staff,” Parkview Football Head Coach Ben Dougherty said.”

“I think you’ve got to take every chance you can to get with those young kids,” Kickapoo Head Coach Nate Thomas said. “Obviously, they’re the future of our program.”

For the first time ever, the two high schools teamed up for a middle school camp this week in an effort to combat decreasing involvement numbers.

It’s a problem that’s forcing Jarrett and Carver middle schools to play together this season so they can keep a full roster.

The two will form a co-op team with players that feed into both Parkview and Kickapoo.

“Being able to put a face to a name before you even step foot in our high school is really important,” Thomas said.

“You want them to have that pride for your school so that when they get to you, they’re excited about it and they already know a little bit of what’s going on too,” Dougherty said “They kind of know what you’re expectations are.”

The kids of Jarrett and Carver will be wearing four different badges of pride this year with each middle school on either side of the helmet, and both Vikings and Chiefs on the jersey.

A move that echoes the days of when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia banded together as the “Steagles” during World War II.

“We wanted to make sure it was something where there was pride for both Parkview and Kickapoo since Jarrett feeds all into Parkview and Carver feeds half and half,” Dougherty said. “But we wanted to make sure there was pride for both schools and pride for their schools as well.”

But it’ll be a bit until these kids are wearing the high school colors.

So for now, they’ll be looking up to the current Vikings and Eagles.

A pair of groups that has both head coaches fiending for the fall.

“I like them a lot,” Thomas said. “We’re going to be young. I think we graduated 26 seniors so we’ve got some guys that I think are ready to step into those roles.”

“I love them,” Dougherty said. “They’re one of my favorite groups. It’s really exciting. The senior class is going to be my first senior class that I’ve had as a head coach come all the way through from freshman to senior. So I’m excited to see kind of the growth that they’ve had.”

Kickapoo and Parkview both pumped about the present, but also planning for the future.