Warner Robins head coach Mike Chastain said before the season that his team’s annual game with Northside is bigger than a state championship.
Then the Demons knocked off the Eagles in the area’s top traditional rivalry and one of the top high school rivalries in the nation.
On Friday, the Demons played another rivalry game, although it’s a bit newer than Warner Robins-Northside. In a thrilling back-and-forth game won on a field goal on the game’s final play, Warner Robins knocked off Peach County.
New rivalry, old rivalry, it doesn’t matter. Peach County head coach Chad Campbell likes them all.
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“It’s great for teams to get to play their rivals because there are some schools that probably don’t get to do that because of their region situation, and that’s a shame,” Campbell said. “It’s big for us, big for our community, and it’s big monetarily, too. I love it. I really do. I love the old ones, and I love the new ones, too.”
Campbell’s team will play its oldest rival Friday when it hosts Perry. The Trojans and Panthers have played 41 times with the Trojans winning 32 of those.
That game is just one of the rivalry games in the area Friday as Central faces Southwest and Houston County faces Veterans at Freedom Field. Central and Southwest will play for the 45th time, while Houston County-Veterans is a newer rivalry, although the two programs are now sharing Freedom Field.
“This is something goes back a lot of years. Even with the new rivalries with the Warner Robins schools and playing Northside in a scrimmage is kind of a rivalry, it’s still one that goes back a long time, so it’s special,” Campbell said of his team facing Perry. “These young kids that are coming along now, they don’t know about playing Perry. They’ve grown up watching us play Warner Robins and some other schools that have become rivalries for Peach. Peach in the day didn’t play Warner Robins, so for the kids now, Warner Robins is the rivalry game, really. They don’t know about the Perry situation, but it’s a big one.”
Perry knows all about it. Head coach Kevin Smith said his players are looking forward to facing off with the Trojans. The Panthers beat Rutland in Smith’s first game with the program to open this season.
“With us being in our first year at Perry, our guys have not been to the playoffs the last few years,” Smith said. “This game provides a playoff atmosphere, and hopefully, we’re going to be successful enough to play in more big games. I think it’s very important to play in these type of games.
“I just know that last week when we got through practicing that they were anxious to get to this week to play Peach County. The kids seem anxious to want to compete against them because they know Peach County is a very good football team and a state contender. They want to see how we’ve improved since we’ve been here since January.”
The Panthers also want to see how they can compete in an exciting atmosphere Friday. Last week, Peach County hosted Warner Robins at a packed house at Anderson Field.
And there should be another big crowd at Anderson Field on Friday.
“It feeds us, and what I mean by that, with a gate like that, it helps the support the entire athletic program,” Campbell said of playing a rivalry game with a large crowd in attendance. “And with a game like that, there’s a playoff-type atmosphere. I told the kids, ‘You don’t get these kinds of crowds in semifinal games, sometimes.’ Those kinds of games are huge for your team, and you get to find out a lot about what you are.”
Rivalry games for area teams
A look at the most common opponents for teams in Bibb, Houston, Peach, Monroe, Jones, Crawford and Twiggs counties, including the series records in those games:
Central: Southwest, 29-15; Northeast, 27-17.
Crawford County: Taylor County, 8-23.
FPD: Tattnall Square, 16-31.
Houston County: Northside 2-17; Warner Robins, 6-12-1.
Howard: West Laurens, 1-8.
Jones County: Monticello, 17-31-5.
Mary Persons: Jackson, 56-19.
Mount de Sales: Stratford, 16-29.
Northeast: Southwest, 23-24.
Northside: Warner Robins, 25-35.
Peach County: Perry, 32-9.
Perry: Peach County, 9-32.
Rutland: Central, 4-7.
Southwest: Northeast, 24-23.
Stratford: Tattnall Square, 22-28.
Tattnall Square: Stratford 28-22; Westfield, 29-17-4.
Twiggs County: Wilkinson County, 10-11.
Veterans: Howard 5-2; Perry 4-3.
Warner Robins: Northside, 35-25.
Westside: Central, 15-0.