With five miles separating Lone Grove and Plainview, a standing-room-only crowd is expected tonight when the teams meet with the District 4-3A title on the line.
Some outside of the athletic programs of each school have tried to dub the game the Carter County Conflict or the Five Mile Fued. But, neither team embraces the monikers with potentially negative connotations.
“When 7:30 rolls around, both teams are going to try to beat the breaks off each other,” Plainview coach Chris Berus said. “That's the reality. But, we're two communities that share the same restaurants, Walmart, we go to church together. When the game is over, it's all left on the field.
“I don't like that (Five Mile Feud) moniker. It projects something that we don't represent. There is a lot of respect between both programs. We expect a great atmosphere and great ball game.”
Plainview beat Lone Grove 42-0 last season, but the Longhorns have put together an 8-1 record and 6-0 mark in district play to set up what should be a memorable night of football.
“It's a big game with what's at stake is what makes it big,” Berus said.
The Indians' offense garners most of the headlines. But, the defense is a formidable unit.
Berus said the Indians are looking forward to testing themselves against the explosive Longhorn offense.
“They have a prolific offense, a great tailback and a really good quarterback,” Berus said. “He manages the game well and puts the ball where it needs to be in the passing lanes. Really, it's a match up of strengths. They have a good offense and our defense is playing real well. It's going to be a fun night. You want to be challenged going into the playoffs.”
The Indians' defense is led by Zane Manley. The senior has 58 tackles on the season. Junior Chris Hamilton is not far behind with 57 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Senior Cameron Hanan is the team sack leader with four along with 45 tackles.
“We get a lot of kids to the football,” Berus said. “We really do. We tackle in swarms. We chase the ball well. That's, I really believe, going to be the difference in the ball game is our ability to stop their offense. Because they are so explosive.”
The county bragging rights for tonight's winning team will be a small part of the team's reward. Two home games to start the playoffs are the real prize.
“As much as is at stake, in all actuality both teams are going to the playoffs,” Berus said. “You're building a path right now. If you win, you get two homes games to start the playoffs. If you don't, you get the first round at home, then you're on the road.”