Now this is more like it.
November fits the Big Game the way a stylus fits the grooves of that favorite LP you thought youd lost years ago. Play it and youre transported to the security of a simpler time. Back when the big game was the ONLY game.
Its been almost a decade since Northside and Warner Robins played this late on the calendar. On Nov. 14, 2003, the Eagles scored a 37-16 win on the last day of the regular season. That game also marked the end of a marvelous run of 27 years in which the other nine games of the regular season served merely as a prelude to The City Championship. (With one stark exception: in 2001, Warner Robins rescheduled a game with Brunswick after Northside because of the 9/11 attacks.)
Nothing lasts forever. School zones shifted and enrollments changed. Houston County, the youngest of the three sibling schools, outgrew its older brothers and wound up in a larger classification. Northside and Warner Robins got stuck in a sub-divided region that featued a year-end crossover game. November got lost in the translation.
Worse, the series was nearly interrupted when Warner Robins joined Houston County in Class AAAAA prior to the 2006 realignment. There was speculation that Northside might play up a class, but that idea never materialized. As happens with feuds, the issue festered. Because there was no common region, the game itself was threatened.
Cooler heads prevailed and both sides made holes in their schedule for the second week of the season. It never felt right, however. Kickoff before sundown? Sweet tea instead of hot chocolate?
The two came together in the same region again with the 2008 and 2010 realignments, but scheduling issues inhibited the ability to schedule a November finale. We still dont quite have it. Fridays game is only the ninth for each side.
It is winner take all, however. Fridays victor need not win next week to earn the region championship. So thats something.
Of course, its no longer the ONLY game. The majority of the countys prep student population has other colors to cheer this weekend. As a community, we cant kid ourselves that the vibe is as good as it used to be.
But we can reminisce. And we can appreciate that for those wholl play, its a very, very big game. My pick: NORTHSIDE 17, WARNER ROBINS 6.
Contact Chris Deighan at firstname.lastname@example.org.