Jordyn Jean-Felix and Isaiah Williams had the same introduction to the Lambert-South Forsyth rivalry as freshmen four years ago.
They dressed out for the game but mostly watched. They saw friendships collide on the field. They saw 10,000 fans screaming.
"It started out as a friendly rivalry," said Williams, a senior running back at South. "Now it’s turned into something totally different."
"Yeah, it’s a big game," said Jean-Felix, a senior linebacker at Lambert.
Though it’s only three years old, the Lambert-South game has quickly emerged as one of Forsyth County’s best rivalries. It’s taken the usual rivalry formula – one school birthed out of the other to pit friend against friend on the field – but used social media to explode it into arguably Forsyth’s most heated and anticipated.
"It’s what I think high school football’s supposed to be about," South athletic director Keith Gravitt said. "Kids in the stands rooting for their team, communities getting behind their team. There’s always lots of excitement."
The excitement for this year’s game began on Twitter before the season even started and has built steadily ever since.
This past Sunday, one student asked on Twitter if the game was this Friday. South’s student section – @sofonation14 – quickly responded: "[Heck] yea biggest game of the year,"
History shows the rivalry has been one-sided. Lambert is a perfect 3-0 in the series winning by scores of 10-0, 48-7 and 32-19, respectively. The Longhorns have dealt South its first loss of the season two of the three meetings and have an opportunity to do so again this time.
But for Jean-Felix and the rest of Lambert’s seniors, the bigger opportunity is leaving school without a loss to South.
"It’s very important to me," Jean-Felix said. "It’s my senior year. Can’t lost to South my last year of high school."
And so Williams and South’s seniors have an equally monumental opportunity – to be the War Eagles class that breaks Lambert’s streak.
"We definitely want to break that streak," Williams said. "We’ve been working hard for it, and it seems like every year we’ve been getting closer and closer. We’re just trying to fulfill that goal."
The teams meet this Friday at South at 7:30 p.m. going in much different directions. South (3-0) is off to its second straight 3-0 start and coming off a comfortable 38-28 victory against Cambridge. Lambert (1-2) is off to its worst start in school history and coming off a disappointing 16-12 loss to Northview in which the Longhorns committed seven turnovers.
But by the time kickoff comes around, records won’t matter. It’s the Region 6-AAAAAA opener for both teams, a chance for one team to get a head start in the region standings.
Both will have the power of their student sections behind them – the DRN (Dads Red Nation) of Lambert, the BCP (Blue Crew Posse) of South – to produce an impressive amount of noise and distraction.
"It’s crazy," Jean-Felix said. "I compare it to a small Division I-AA game. There are so many people there. It’s so loud."
Williams added: "It’s insane. You can barely hear yourself think sometimes with both of the student sections cheering so loud. Definitely tough on the field. It’s hard to hear calls, hard to hear everything, but you find a way to zone it all out."
There will be one of two outcomes – Lambert can maintain the status quo, or South can make school history.