Two long time football rivals, both battling for respectability, this fall, come to grips tonight when the Bemidji Lumberjacks head to Moorhead to take on the Spuds.
Both teams come into play at 2-4, Bemidji beating Brainerd and Fergus Falls and Moorhead winning over Apollo and Fergus. Neither Fergus nor Apollo has won a game. Brainerd is 4-2.
Tonight's winner could still reach the .500 mark before the year ends, something that will be foremost in the minds of both tonight.
Moorhead has been a long time Bemidji tormentor in a series that dates back to 1951.
Ironically, Bemidji took the first six meetings, then dropped the Spuds to take on Fergus Falls at the time rated as a stronger opponent.
Since the series was resumed in 1981, Moorhead has held a strangle hold, now leading 33-12.
Twelve of the victories have come in post season play with Bemidji winning only once.
The Spuds have won the past 10 meetings since Bemidji prevailed 27-13 in 2001, its state tournament season.
But despite the lopsided record, many of the games have been extremely close with the Jacks usually giving Moorhead all it could handle.
Bemidji fans are hoping for more of that approach tonight.
Bemidji trailed 13-7 after three periods in last year's meeting here in a driving rainstorm before Moorhead scored twice in the final period to win 27-7.
The two were tied in the playoffs at 14-14 after a quarter. But Moorhead scored twice more in the second and held off the Jacks 30-14.
Against two common foes, the pair are near even. Both lost to Alexandria by 11 Bemidji beat Fergus by 12 and Moorhead by six.
But the Jacks hold their win over Brainerd while the Warriors had few problems in their 26-7 win over the Spuds.
Moorhead was largely a senior team last year with only three juniors starting on both offense and defense.
Two of the three on offense are quarterback Luke Gotta and halfback Sam Stetz.
Stetz scored one of the playoff TD's on a Gotta pass, one of three thrown by the signal caller, presumably the grandson of the legendary Jim Gotta for whom the Moorhead stadium is named.
Bemidji is fighting a siege of illness that limited Monday's workouts to walk throughs.
Coach Troy Hendricks hoped to have most, if not all, of the players back Tuesday .
He rated Moorhead as a far better team than its record and one that will require a complete effort to beat.
Ryan Stevens will be back at the controls with Evan Olson at full and Czar Woods at tailback with Ryan Rude as flanker.
Carey Woods and Cole Bardwell will see action at split end, Woods despite suffering a finger injury in a shop class accident.
Will Bruestle will be the tight end with Chris Dudley and Grant Richardson or Zach Solheim at tackle, Chris Madson and Jake Gruber at guard and Lukas Dudley at center.
Kevin Nelson will spell the running backs.
On defense, the front three will be Josh Smith and Frank Mays flanking Lukas Dudley or Core Huber with Cody Fear and Harley Kroening the outside backers and Olson and Ernie Heifort inside.
The Woods brothers man the corners with Forrest Moe and Matt Hietala deep.
With the premature end of the B Team season, many of the sophs have joined the varsity to complete the season.