The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Cougar Hunt

The hunters have become the hunted
Seniors Ryann McEniry, Vincent Nixon, and Emelia Fothergill pose with the SM West “Cougar Hunt” shirts Sept. 1 in the SM South football stadium. Photo by Anna Torres.

Shawnee Mission West’s flag flies in the wind, whipping back and forth as football players race out onto the field, their helmets winking gold in the evening sunlight. 

Camouflage and Crocs are the SMW student section’s unofficial fan uniform. They scream across the field at their opponents. The Northwest stands — a sea of inky black — jeer in return.

Students on both sides share eye black sticks and swipe it on in dark stripes. Selfies are taken and snaps are sent as friends stand together, cheering as the football players limber up for the game ahead.

They’re all high school students, but the football field between them creates a rift. They’re all high school students, but they’re bitter rivals, too. 

It’s orange versus gold. 

NW versus SMW.

Cougars versus Vikings. 

And the Cougar Hunt has just begun. 


The Cougar hunters, with their bandanas and fighting spirit, stomp and clap. SMW’s rivalry with NW isn’t taken lightly — both schools put the other down and adamantly claim that they are the best.

Camouflage T-shirts printed with the orange words “Cougar Hunt” are scattered throughout SMW’s crowd. The Cougar Hunt shirts had stirred up whispers in the halls of NW the weeks before the big game. Two Vikings, Izzy Joyce and Cali Lester, are the creators behind the notorious Cougar Hunt T-shirts they wear — deemed patriotic by some and cocky by others.

“We’ve always had that theme for the past few years because you guys are our rivals,” Joyce says. 

But it’s not only SMW students that have bought the Cougar Hunt T-shirts.

NW senior Vincent Nixon brought along a Cougar Hunt shirt to the Viking funeral. 

“I felt like it would be a great way to just rub it in,” Nixon said. “ relish the victory more.”

The two schools scream at one another as the football players suit up for battle. One SMW student waves a football skewered on a stick, and a cougar mascot head hangs in front of their student section. With a blow of the whistle, NW’s first football game of the season begins.

Soon the sky begins to darken, but neither school backs down. As the Cougars score the first touchdown of the game, the Viking cheerleaders smile and wave their black and gold pom poms, trying to raise their students’ spirits. NW’s cheers and taunts are swept away by the wind. 

Drums rumble like thunder as the NW fight song blasts through the air. The Viking’s band conductors yell out song names and gesture with their white-gloved hands, commanding their band to play. 

“Five, six, seven, eight!” the conductors shout.

The score has climbed to 21-0, and not in the Viking’s favor. The hunters have become the hunted.

As halftime begins, the SMW student section cheers and rocks back and forth, pretending they’re on a roller coaster. Their band races onto the field and into formation, playing “We Will Rock You.”

“Cougars!” NW chants as the halftime performance comes to an end. SMW screams back. 

At the start of the fourth quarter, both bands try to drown each other out with their rumbling music. 

At the end of the game, the NW Cougars beat the SMW Vikings forty-eight to six. 

“I think that it’s a good rivalry between our two schools,” freshman Olivia Holthaus says. “And we all know who’s the better team.”

And who’s that?

“Shawnee Mission NW.”

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