It's the Nebraska Class B high school football equivalent of the Super Bowl Friday night, Sept. 2, at Weiland Field.
Hope all the sports fans (and everyone else) are making plans to be on hand when our McCook Bison host the Aurora Huskies in another edition in the classic high school football rivalry that has developed over the past few years.
These two stories programs have been among the best in the state the past decade. Each school owns back-to-back Class B state football championships, and both are ranked among the state's best early in the 2011 campaign.
The historic McCook football stadium will be buzzing with a championship-type atmosphere when these two outstanding teams bang heads Friday night. It would be great to see -- and great for the players from both teams -- a Weiland Field filled to the brim with loud Bison fans.
It's been a few years since Coach Jeff Gross and his staff has fielded a true championship contender. The Bison were respectable the last two years, but let's face it -- seasons with two or three losses just don't cut it with McCook fans accustomed to seeing the Bison win every game in the regular season and make a run deep in the Class B state playoffs as the team has done so many times in the past.
I know it's only the second week of the regular season, and Coach Gross and his coaching staff are aware of that also. Gross is downplaying the big-game hype to his team, and I doubt the veteran coach will let his team get too emotionally high for Friday's big game. But Gross also knows Friday's Aurora-Bison showdown could go a long way to determining a successful season for both teams depending on the outcome of the game.
Play makers ... Gross admits that this year's team has several "difference makers" -- players capable of making big plays every time they touch the football. Those play-makers are scattered in the offensive backfield, at wide receiver, and catching and returning kickoffs and punts.
A win or loss Friday won't make or break either team -- there's just too much football left to be played before either team can think about post-season ramifications. But a win or loss can go a long, long way in setting the course for a successful season for both the Bison and Huskies.
McCook can end a five-game losing skid to Aurora and perhaps send a message to the rest of state's Class B teams. Aurora can continue its dominance over the Bison that started when the Huskies snapped McCook's incredible 71-game home win streak with a 48-10 victory at Weiland Field Sept. 11, 2009.
I moved to town a week after that contest, and I have yet to witness in person a Bison win over Aurora. I'm ready for that to change Friday.
Another classic on tap ... It will be a classic battle. The Huskies lost a bunch of talented seniors from last year's team that rallied for a 43-28 win over the Bison in the second week of the regular season, then topped McCook again 27-0 in the Class B playoff quarterfinals -- both games played on the Aurora home turf.
The Huskies still have plenty of weapons left, protected by a formidable front line. Gross said in today's preview article that the key to a Bison win would be to control the line of scrimmage both offensive and defensively.
McCook is up to that task. The Bison will be a bit smaller weight-wise than their Aurora counterparts, but such standouts as Clint Beguin, Mitch Collicott, Austen Sis & Co. will lead the Bison up front.
Coach Gross has speed to burn in quarterback Matt Chitwood, running back Jake Schlager and wide receiver Austin Cherry. I think the veteran Bison coach will pull a few tricks from his sleeves Friday. Look to see these three players play key roles for McCook both running and passing the football, and on special teams.
Hope to see the whole town at Weiland Field Friday night to cheer on a bunch of outstanding young men who are great representatives of McCook High School and our community.