As Scott and Oneida prepare to open the district portion of the 2014 football season this week, each team will do so on the road against a very familiar opponent.
Oneida will travel to Wartburg, while Scott travels to Kingston. Kickoff at each location is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The Scott-Kingston game will be broadcast live on WBNT FM 105.5, while the Oneida-Wartburg game will be broadcast on a tape-delay basis.
The Indians are facing Wartburg for the 50th time in a series that dates back to 1948 — Oneida's second season of resumed football following World War II.
Oneida lost that first meeting to Wartburg, 19-0, but has generally owned the series since. Oneida has 35 wins to Wartburg's 13 in the series. There was one tie — a scoreless deadlock in 1955.
The two teams began playing annually in 2009, when TSSAA reclassification pitted them against one another in District 4-A. Prior to that, Oneida had not faced Wartburg regularly since the mid 1990s.
Wartburg last defeated Oneida in 2010 — a 13-7 win on its home turf that was sparked by a fumbled lateral returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Prior to that, Oneida had lost to Wartburg just twice since the start of the Coach Jim May era in 1981. That season, Wartburg won in overtime, 14-8.
Through the years, Oneida has owned the longest winning streak in the series, 10 straight from 1956 to 1965. Wartburg won 6-0 in 1966, then lost seven more to the Indians before beginning its longest win streak in the series — four games — in 1974.
Oneida's biggest win over Wartburg came in 1959, a 62-0 win. Wartburg's biggest win over Oneida came in 1954, a 36-13 win.
While there appears to be plenty of separation between the two teams at first glance, Oneida coach Tony Lambert is quick to put the brakes on any talk of anything less than a hard-fought game.
"We'll get their best effort, we know that," Lambert said. "I don't know a whole lot about them, but I know they're going to give us 100 percent."
Wartburg is coming off a 49-6 loss to Rockwood last week. Rockwood also defeated Oneida in the season-opener two weeks ago, coming from behind for a 14-13 win.
Lambert is also quick to point out that Oneida has struggled at Wartburg recently. In 2012, the Indians won only 6-0, and the game ended with Wartburg driving in Oneida territory. In 2010, the Bulldogs pulled off the win, 13-7.
Oneida's last win in Wartburg was a 21-8 victory in 2005, Lambert's first season at Oneida as defensive coordinator.
Lambert is 2-0 against the Bulldogs as head coach; his team earned a 44-8 win at Dr. M.E. Thompson Field last year in addition to the 6-0 win in 2012.
Wartburg coach Toney Brawner is still looking for his first win against Oneida.
Scott High, meanwhile, is preparing to meet the team that is arguably its biggest rival. And this year's Highlander squad has a chance to do something no SHS team has done before: beat Kingston twice in a row.
In 36 meetings prior to this season, Scott has won only four times against the Yellow Jackets. But one of those wins came last year, a 14-12 victory by the Highlanders in Huntsville.
Scott coach Keith Shannon knows that there is always a lot on the line when his team gets together with the Yellow Jackets.
"They know who we are and we know who they are," Shannon said. "And that's two very good football teams that are going to fight and give it 100 percent.
"This is one of those games that you can't wait to line up and play," Shannon added. "I'm sure Coach (Jackson) Sharp remembers when he played against Kingston, and I know I remember the games I've coached against them."
Scott's first win over the Yellow Jackets came in 1984 — the Highlanders' district championship season. Scott won 14-7 that day.
But the Highlanders wouldn't beat Kingston again until 1997, a 23-7 win. Scott defeated the Yellow Jackets again in 2003, 40-20.
Kingston's longest winning streak in the series is 12 games, from 1985-1996. During that stretch, the Highlanders often kept Kingston's offense in check, but could not muster much offense themselves against a stout Vic King defense.
In the late '80s and early '90s, the Scott-Kingston game was played at the end of the season; it was the regular season finale for the Highlanders from 1989 through 1992, and again in 1995 and 1996.
Scott has had its chances to make the season more even than it has been. In 2004, a missed extra point was the difference in the game, as Kingston squeaked out a 7-6 win. In 2009, Scott had an 8-point lead and the ball inside Kingston territory as the clock neared zero, but a bizarre sequence of events resulted in a turnover, a Kingston touchdown, and — ultimately — a 34-27 win by the Yellow Jackets in overtime.
Even when Scott has been at its best, Kingston has seemed to have had the Highlanders' number. In 1999's historic season, Kingston earned a 17-10 win. In 1993, as the Highlanders were making their first playoff appearance since 1984, Kingston stunned everyone with a 47-8 win. The next season, Kingston came from behind for a 19-15 win against an even better Scott High team. In 1996, Scott had the upper hand only to see Kingston roar back to win, 27-26.
This year's Highlander team, though, has an opportunity to exorcise years of frustration against the Yellow Jackets with that elusive second consecutive win. Scott is coming off impressive wins over McCreary Central and Cumberland County and is one of only six teams in the state that have not given up a point through the first two weeks of the season. Kingston opened its season last week with a two-touchdown loss to Grace Christian Academy, the state's top-ranked Class 2A school, and has not won a game since the 2012 season— an unusual twist for a Kingston program that is typically one of the region's fiercest.
Scott High coach Keith Shannon is looking for his second win against the Yellow Jackets; he is 1-3 overall. Kingston coach Brian Pankey is looking for his first win against Scott High.
The magnificent six: There were 27 teams who pitched shutouts in the opening week of Tennessee high school football, and 25 who did it in week two, but only six who did it both weeks — Scott High, Chattanooga Christian, East Nashville, DCA, FACS and Melrose.
Injuries: Scott High backup quarterback Billy Hall (ACL) and starting linebacker Trey Sellers (ankle) are questionable for Friday's game against Kingston. Oneida punter Nash Lay (shoulder) and wingback Nate Bowling (shoulder) are both battling injuries as well.