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Duluth's resurgence adds spice to old rivalry

Corey Jarvis wasn’t at Duluth long before he understood.

“One of the first things that I was taught was the rivalry between Norcross and Duluth,” the first-year Wildcats coach said. “Our kids understand the rivalry.”

Norcross at Duluth

Duluth Wildcats (7-AAAAA)

Coach: Corey Jarvis

Record: 2-1

Last week: Lost to Alpharetta 44-17

Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAA)

Coach: Keith Maloof

Record: 3-0

Last week: Beat Roswell 20-14

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Norcross won 29-7 last year

Directions to Duluth High School: From I-85, take Ga. Highway 120 east to Buford Highway and turn right. Take a left at the next light onto Brock Road and school is on the left.

Series history:

• 2009: Norcross 29, Duluth 7

• 2008: Norcross 28, Duluth 0

• 2007: Norcross 47, Duluth 12

• 2006: Norcross 48, Duluth 7

• 2005: Norcross 24, Duluth 19

• 2004: Norcross 38, Duluth 6

• 2003: Duluth 13, Norcross 3

• 2002: Norcross 31, Duluth 24

• 2001: Norcross 24, Duluth 0

• 2000: Norcross 24, Duluth 6

• 1999: Duluth 13, Norcross 6

• 1998: Norcross 26, Duluth 17

• 1997: Norcross 47, Duluth 10

• 1996: Duluth 21, Norcross 20

• 1995: Norcross 16, Duluth 15

• 1994: Norcross 34, Duluth 21

• 1993: Duluth 29, Norcross 28 (overtime)

• 1992: Duluth 42, Norcross 14

• 1991: Norcross 35, Duluth 0

• 1990: Norcross 42, Duluth 7

Down the road at Norcross, Keith Maloof agrees.

“It’s still a big rivalry,” the Blue Devils’ coach said. “It’s one of the oldest rivalries around.”

The two schools have met 46 times starting in 1962 and Norcross holds an advantage of 12 games over its northern neighbor. It’s a separation that the Blue Devils have added to for the past seven seasons and in the past decade Duluth won just once over Norcross, a 13-3 win in 2003.

Duluth went .500 that season, its only non-losing season since 1996. In Norcross, things have been quite different. An even win-loss record is the worst Norcross has done over the last 11 seasons, winning 10 or more games twice.

Other than proximity, football in Duluth and Norcross could not be more different.

This looks to be another good year for the Blue Devils. They enter tonight’s game 3-0 with wins over Dacula, Parkview and Roswell. They have a strong running game led by Seth Hinsley and Kendrix Huitt and a defense that hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game.

The Blue Devils’ running attack is bolstered by an offensive line maturing at a rapid pace.

“We are very proud of where they are right now,” Maloof said. “They really like each other. The chemistry is pretty good. With high school football how the offensive line goes is usually how you go.”

Things are going pretty well at Norcross.

A good Norcross team is not news. What’s happening at Duluth is the surprise.

For the first time since 1985, the Wildcats started 2-0 and even with a loss last week, they enter tonight’s game with a confidence not present in recent meetings.

“They are much better than they were last year,” Maloof said, “and they believe. That is a big thing when you are playing football.”

Buoyed by the early success, Jarvis sees his team getting better each game and not suffering losses well.

“We still have a lot of people that know we didn’t play our best ball game (last week),” Jarvis said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get that out of our system.”

Underscoring the rise of the Wildcats, the strength of the Blue Devils and a decades old rivalry is the implication of this game. It’s not just about pride. It’s the region opener for both teams.

“It’s a big ball game,” Maloof said. “It’s the first region game. It doesn’t matter what either of us have done up to this point.”