Houston County and Veterans High School will finally face one another to open the 2014 football season in a matchup that many local fans have clamored to see since the latter opened its doors in 2010.
Separated by just seven miles, the two schools already enjoy highly competitive rivalries in many sports, but have yet to square off on the football field.
That will change Aug. 28 at McConnell-Talbert Stadium when all eyes will be squarely on the Bears and the Warhawks.
The Thursday kickoff was by design.
“We agreed early on that we should play on a Thursday night,” Von Lassiter, Houston County High head coach, said. “We thought that if we play then, we would get a lot of people to the game and that it would be a big time atmosphere for our kids.”
Houston County is the only county school Veterans has yet to play. The Warhawks have shared a region with Perry since the start of the program, and they have played both Northside and Warner Robins twice.
The contest comes at an important time for both programs.
Veterans made its first playoff appearance in program history last season, and Houston County returned to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
“Now that we’ve had a little success, and of course last season (Houston County) had a good year, I think that right there in and of itself has gotten people excited about it,” Veterans head coach David Bruce said.
The quarterback matchup has dominated the discussion ahead of the contest, and rightfully so.
Veterans’ junior Logan Byrd has picked up nine scholarship offers from the likes of Virginia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Duke. Bears signal caller Jake Fromm is also a national recruit, garnering offers from Cincinnati, Marshall and North Carolina despite having just a single freshman season under his belt.
Fans anticipating offensive fireworks could get their wish.
“If you like to watch good quarterback play, I think it’s really going to be a night to come out and watched some good ones,” Bruce said.
“They’re both highly recruited and they’re both really good players,” Lassiter said. “I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Barring significant changes in region scheduling, both coaches say local fans should get used to seeing the Bears and the Warhawks on opposite sidelines.
“I think if we both have room in our schedules that we’ll continue to play one another,” Lassiter said. “It’s just a game that’s got to be done. It makes sense economically, and it makes sense for rivalries. So many of our kids know each other that it’s going to be a fun game to play.”
“I thought this would be the most natural rivalry in the county for us and that it would be a game that the players, the fans and everyone would enjoy,” Bruce said.