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Bears, Tigers renew friendly football battle

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Mountain View's Marvin Elam (5) tries to push off Central Gwinnett's Francis Kallon (95) to gain yardage during the game last week.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Mountain View's Marvin Elam (5) tries to push off Central Gwinnett's Francis Kallon (95) to gain yardage during the game last week.

While they share a Lawrenceville mailing address, Archer and Mountain View aren't exactly geographically close.

It's a 13-mile drive from Archer, southeast of the city, up to Mountain View, which is so far north of Lawrenceville that it borders the Mill Creek district.

Despite that separation, the two schools have become rivals based on their common opening date as Gwinnett County Public Schools in 2009. The rivalry resumes in football Friday when Archer hosts the Bears in a non-region game.

"It is our rival game," Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. "The schools we split from (Grayson, Dacula, Central Gwinnett), there is some rivalry there. But you've got to beat somebody to make it a rivalry. So this game with Archer is a natural rivalry for us because we're both new and both fighting to be successful.

"There are a lot of similarities between our coaching staffs and our programs. We're both starting new and we're just trying to get our feet firmly on the ground."

It also helps that both sides of the rivalry can claim victories.

Mountain View beat Archer 29-22 and 34-0 in two meetings in 2009, while Archer returned the favor with a 17-13 win last season.

"We're living parallel lives in a lot of ways with Archer, sharing a lot of the same things," Mountain View head coach Tim Hardy said. "There's definitely a connection with them, a rivalry, because we've been around the same amount of time. We've played each other a lot already and all of those have been good, close, competitive games."

In the next chapter of the rivalry, both teams are seeking the season's first win.

Archer lost its opener 28-24 to Duluth in heartbreaking fashion, falling behind before rallying to take a late lead. The Wildcats rebounded with a touchdown to sneak a victory from the young Tigers.

Earnest Alexander (12 rushes for 100 yards), Antonio Riles (caused fumble, fumble recovery) and others played well, but Archer didn't finish like Dyer wanted.

"That was our toughest loss to date, for our kids and for our coaching staff," Dyer said. "Our kids really battled back, fought their tails off and put themselves in a position to win."

Mountain View is in bounce-back mode, too.

The Bears were undone by their own mistakes in a 54-14 loss to Central Gwinnett, mainly with their seven fumbles. Four of those were lost and led directly to quick Central touchdowns. The Black Knights also blocked a punt for an early score to go up 28-0.

But Mountain View's running game, behind Marvin Elam, controlled most of the second quarter and cut the margin to 28-14 at halftime. Joshua Briggman also had a big interception before halftime to set up a scoring drive.

But fumbles on three straight possessions to open the second half turned the game into a lopsided rout.

"So many of our mistakes last week were self-inflicted," Hardy said. "On one level, that's frustrating. On another level, it's encouraging because they were things that we can fix."