BAKER — It will be the regular season version of the War of Highway Four on Friday as Baker travels to Jay to take on the Royals in a key District 1-1A game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
No matter what the sport is, when Baker and Jay get together, you can throw out the longtime rivals’ records.
“We are in the district with Jay in just about all of our sports and we’ve been playing each other, because the schools have been about the same size, for 50 years,” Baker Coach Matt Brunson said. “We anticipate a war and our kids will be ready. And I’m sure their kids will be ready.
“You have two small rural farming communities that take a lot of pride in their football. It should be a great 1A high school football game.”
Baker (4-3. 0-1) is coming off a 28-14 Homecoming win against Sneads last week. The Royals (3-3, 0-1) beat Cottondale 30-20 last week.
Brunson, who played at Baker during the 1980s and was an assistant coach at the school in the 90s, is well aware of the history between the teams.
“We had some bad blood — even more so than there is now — back in the 1980s because back then, only one team (from each district) went to the playoffs,” he said. “So it was us, Jay and Century.
“We kind of held the upper hand on those teams, but we had some very vicious wars. There was extra security brought in and there were always some hardfought battles.”
Brunson pointed out that Jay Coach Kent Smith is a Jay graduate and a former Baker assistant, so he too is well aware of the history between the teams and that could add even more fuel to the fire.
Baker has won the last two regular season games and rocked the Royals 61-26 last year, but Brunson said Jay is an improved team from last year.
“We beat Jay pretty good last year and I think they beat Jay the year before so we are on a two-game winning streak over the Royals,” he said. “I don’t know what the all-time record in this series is, but my challenge to this senior class is, ‘Don’t let your class be the one to end the streak.’
“They’ve got a very athletic back in Ricky Cofield. They line up in 2-by-1 split, shotgun package and Cofield runs downhill. They kind of spread you out to run.”
Brunson said the Gator offense will continue to stress the run first against the Royals and, if that opens up the passing game a little, they will try to take advantage of the situation.
With both teams having already lost one district game, this is do-or-die time in the four-team district.
“If we can beat Jay, we will still hold our destiny in our own hands when we play Northview in Week 10, and that’s all you can ask,” Brunson said. “I think in a game of this magnitude, it will be, ‘Take care of the football and the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.’”