It seems odd that two teams from Gwinnett County with 20-plus years of football history never met until 2000.
Brookwood and North Gwinnett even took a two-year break in 2004 and 2005.
But 2006 began a furious slate of matchups with regular-season meetings plus a playoff game in 2007. And just like last year, the two teams will meet twice in the same season for their fifth game in three seasons.
"They say familiarity breeds contempt, so I don't know where we are with that," said North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire. "It is playoff time so it is a whole new season."
The contempt may be more one-sided since North has won the past four meetings and five of the eight matchups since the series started in 2000.
"We haven't had a lot of success against them, but we have played some pretty good football games and come up short," said Brookwood head coach Mark Crews. "I think our kids our excited."
This may be a rematch from earlier in this season, but neither team looks as it did when they first met in Snellville. Brookwood running back Brice Smith is out after an arrest, North's Cordero Dixon will watch from the sideline after having foot surgery. Both teams have 10 games of experience and bruises.
"You have to go into this week just like you have never played them before," Sphire said. "You have to analyze it and look at all the things they have done. It is really starting from scratch again."
But all that is for coaches and team meetings. No matter how much high school football is about matchups, strategy and strength, there is a level of emotion playing in each game. Amplify it for a rematch.
Brookwood can't be happy with the string of losses.
"The emotional part is lots of times they say it is hard to beat a good football team twice," Crews said. "There are a lot of different aspects of playing a team twice. We just haven't been successful the last three or four times.
"We just have to be able to make a play here or there that we haven't. Maybe the playoffs will be the time we start doing that."
North, even as victors, understands the challenge of Brookwood.
"Our kids in this program have no illusion of Brookwood being anything other than a great football team," Sphire said. "It is a first-class high school and you have a lot of high expectations when you step into that school."
Each team enters tonight's matchup coming off a frustrating loss. The Broncos struggled to move the ball against longtime rival Parkview and North Gwinnett sputtered against Peachtree Ridge, losing the Region 7-AAAAA title the final game of the season for the third straight year. Neither team loses games often.
"Nobody is happy in the North Gwinnett camp because we lost a football game," Sphire said.
This game is not Week 3. It's not about getting better or building experience. It is less a battle of opposing philosophies, more of execution. North nor Brookwood can bring too many surprises. The young history runs too deep.
"The first game makes everybody show their hand," Crews said. "The second game you don't have as much stuff you have a chance to use."
SideBar: BROOKWOOD AT NORTH GWINNETT
Who: Brookwood Broncos (8-AAAAA) at
Peacthree Ridge Bulldogs (7-AAAAA)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: North Gwinnett High School (From I-85, go west on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road until it becomes Suwanee Dam Road. School is on the right)
Coaches: Mark Crews, Brookwood; Bob Sphire, North Gwinnett
Records: Brookwood 6-4, North Gwinnett 8-2
Last week: Brookwood lost to Parkview 7-0; North Gwinnett lost to Peachtree Ridge 19-7
Winner plays: Lassiter-Etowah winner
· Rushing: Brice Smith, 761 yards
· Passing: Ben McLane, 568 yards
· Receiving: Smith, 178 yards
· Tackles: Michael Brown, 91
· Interceptions: Wade Brogdon, 5
North Gwinnett Leaders:
· Rushing: Tyler Jarry, 619 yards
· Passing: Mikey Tamburo, 1,448 yards
· Receiving: Jarry, 456 yards
· Tackles: Zach Humphrey, 78
· Interceptions: Humphrey, 2