Some rivals seem to match each other punch for punch throughout the history of their series. And, if one team ever manages to put together a string of victories against the other, it often doesn’t take long for the trend to reverse.
For the two oldest high school football programs in Forsyth County, that type of struggle has not existed in more than a decade.
When South Forsyth hosts Forsyth Central tonight (7:30 p.m.) at War Eagle Field, the War Eagles will be trying for their eighth consecutive victory over the Bulldogs.
Central last defeated South prior to the turn of the new millennium on Oct. 13, 2000, when this year’s class of seniors was still in kindergarten. South has won six of the seven meetings since then by 17 points or more and now boasts a 10-5-1 record in the all-time series.
The War Eagles returned the majority of their starters this season from a team that defeated Central 24-6 last season, and coach Jeff Arnette said his players are well aware of the history between the two schools.
"They know, but every year is a different year," Arnette said.
"That is a concern that your kids are thinking, ‘Hey, we’ve done this several times in a row and this isn’t going to be a problem.’ I don’t think our kids are going to do that, but as a coach you can’t help but guard yourself from that."
Central coach Chris Bennett said his biggest worry about the game is a possible hangover from the Bulldogs’ season opener.
While South cruised to a 48-19 victory against Northview last Friday, Central lost a hard-fought, emotional game 10-7 against rival North Forsyth.
"Back to back rivalry games are tough," Bennett said. "We would love to be able to break [South’s streak].
"I’ve said before, ‘It’s not a rivalry until we beat them.’ It’s been pretty lopsided and it’s hard to call it a rivalry."
The War Eagles’ variety of weapons in the running game could pose problems for a Central squad that surrendered 95 rushing yards on 19 carries last week to North’s Jamal Davenport, a bruising sophomore fullback.
South quarterback Jantzen Jeffrey, a senior with an offer from Air Force, delivered an early backbreaker against the Bulldogs last season with an 80-yard touchdown run and remains a threat to scramble for big gains.
"We made a lot of mistakes [last Friday] and a lot of that is because we’re so young," Bennett said. "We’re starting 18 of 22 guys that had never played on Friday night and we look forward to a lot of improvement."
The Bulldogs may need every ounce of improvement they can make to have a shot at ending the War Eagles’ string of victories against them tonight. Arnette believes experience is South’s biggest asset this season, and the War Eagles have shown it with big plays on offense, defense and special teams during a pair of comfortable wins in their preseason scrimmage and season opener.
"Our school is excited," Arnette said of the matchup with Central. "I think it’s one of those things that reaches into the community, not just with the players.
"It’s always fun and exciting to play somebody that [you’ve been] playing for that long."