Any high school football fans who think they've seen it all might want to head to Mansfield Friday night, as the Hornets will host Marshfield in a showdown of two Top 20 teams.
There are great matchups every week, so what makes this game so special? Just ask the coaches.
"We've never played Mansfield before," said Marshfield coach Lou Silva, who almost can't believe it himself.
Hard to believe as it may be, it's true. Despite the fact that the two programs routinely qualify for the playoffs, Friday night's game will be the first meeting between the two.
"We've never been in the same division," said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. "They've been in Division 1 or 1A. We've been in Division 2."
It soon became clear that the only way the two teams would meet would be in the regular season. That would not be a problem though. It's fair to say that neither program has shied away from tough competition over the years, and this nonleague battle should only help both squads down the road.
"We try to play the best possible teams that we can," said Silva. "Mansfield is such a great program. They are always in the Top 10 for the Boston Globe. It's going to be an interesting game, win, lose or draw."
The Rams are already off to a 2-0 start, including a season-opening 23-20 win at Beverly Hills. It was sweet revenge for Marshfield, which hosted Beverly Hills two years ago, but lost. Silva said shortly after the game that he would like the opportunity to take his team out to the West Coast. That goal became a reality two weeks ago.
"It was just an awesome trip for us," said Silva. "We really wanted the kids to have a positive experience.
No strangers to the beach themselves, the Marshfield contingent of players, cheerleaders, and parents got to experience the Pacific Ocean, heading right to Santa Monica upon arrival on Friday.
"We spent a few hours there," said Silva. "The kids checked out some of the rides along the beach."
From there, the group toured the University of Southern California, then it was back to Beverly Hills for a practice. After the workout, there was a cookout sponsored by the Beverly Hills parents and the city.
Saturday was game day. When the clubs met two years ago, the Rams were overwhelmed by Beverly Hills' speed. The Marshfield coaching staff knew it would have to find a way to neutralize that if they were to have a chance to win.
"We decided we were going to hold onto the ball," said Silva. "We were going to keep their offense off the field for as long as possible."
To that end, the Rams only passed the ball twice all game, preferring instead to keep the ball on the ground and pound the Beverly Hills defense. Marshfield controlled the clock, rushing for over 300 yards en route to the 23-20 win.
"We returned the favor," Silva said with a laugh.
Mansfield enters the game at 0-1, dropping a heartbreaker to No. 2 Dartmouth, 9-7, last week.
"That was a tough loss, but ever since the format changed in 1992, where we can't get hurt with a tough nonleague schedule, we've always tried to get the best teams on our schedule," said Redding. "We have confidence in our kids that they'll compete with teams in the Top 10."
The Hornets also scrimmaged No. 3 BC High in the preseason, so they figure to be more than ready once play begins in the Hockomock League.
"Both teams like to hit," said Redding. "It should be a good, old-fashioned battle. We're really excited to coach against someone like Lou. It should be a great experience."