This one’s for keeps: FPD, Stratford meet one final time in regular season GISA play

When Stratford makes the short, 1.9-mile trek to FPD tonight, it will mark the final meeting — barring a playoff matchup — for at least two years between the two bitter rivals. The Vikings leave for the GHSA after this season, and it would be at least two years (and perhaps many more) before the Eagles could join them. If the game wasn’t enough by itself, the series is tied 18-18-1. Tonight’s winner could hold bragging rights for quite a while.

Five memorable FPD-Stratford football games:

Nov. 26, 2004

Stratford 35, FPD 34 OT, state championship game

Is there a bigger moment in any rivalry in Middle Georgia than these two teams going to overtime for the state championship? FPD won the regular season game between the teams (see below), but Stratford got the ultimate revenge by beating its hated rival by a point ... in the championship game ... in overtime ... on its opponent’s home field. The Eagles scored 28 second-half points to force overtime, but the biggest play came when Robert Judd blocked a 28-yard game-winning field goal attempt by FPD with 7.3 seconds left in regulation. After scoring first in overtime, FPD missed an extra point. Stratford scored quickly thereafter, and kicker/running back John Meyer made the championship clinching extra point.

Nov. 25, 1983

Stratford 7, FPD 6, state championship game

Just like the 2004 championship game, this game came down to a kick. Stratford’s Will Williams blocked a punt late in the game and recovered the ball at the FPD 1-yard line. Quarterback Jeff Avant scored from a yard out on the next play, and an extra point gave Stratford the 7-6 lead with 54 seconds to play. This was only other time Stratford and FPD met for the state championship. Also like in the 2004 title game, Stratford was coming off a regular season loss to FPD. But the Eagles won the game that counted the most. It was the Eagles’ first championship since 1972 and their first win over FPD since 1978.

Oct. 15, 2004

FPD 28, Stratford 24

The Vikings and Eagles entered the game as two of the top teams in the league. The game went down to the final moments, when FPD stopped Stratford star John Meyer at the goal line with 18 seconds left for the win. It was a big boost for the Vikings, who were then thought of as the team to beat in the GISA. But the celebration was shortlived with Stratford beating FPD for the state championship less than a month later.

Nov. 6, 1981

FPD 10, Stratford 6

Former Stratford head coach Bobby Brown led the Vikings to a close win that clinched the school’s second region championship. It was also Brown’s 100th career win. The FPD defense hung tough the entire game, forcing four Stratford turnovers. Two turnovers came inside the FPD 20-yard line, including an interception in the end zone that killed an Eagles’ drive.

Oct. 5, 1979

FPD 0, Stratford 0

This was the game that really turned the series into a competitive one for the Vikings. Prior to the tie, FPD had lost its first four games against Stratford by a combined score of 96-12. But former Stratford head coach Bobby Brown led the Vikings to a hard-fought tie that paved the way for three FPD wins from 1980-1982. Despite being outgained 170-75 and never getting inside Stratford’s 25-yard line, FPD came up with a fumble recovery inside its own 3-yard line on the only meaningful offensive drive of the game.