The majority of Jackson football fans remember the last time the Ironmen and Hillsboro played. The current players, however - from both teams - were not even born yet.
It was 1996, as Jackson was playing in its first-ever playoff game at Portsmouth Spartan Municipal Stadium on a cold and snowy night, which ended with a 7-3 win for the Ironmen.
Now these two schools are competing in the newly formed Frontier Athletic Conference and this week is a must-win situation for both squads.
The Ironmen (6-1, 2-0 FAC) played last week's game, a 48-28 win at Miami Trace without some key components in their starting lineup.
"We had five starters out and most of them will be game-time decisions again this week," said Jackson head coach Andy Hall. "A lot of our young guys have stepped up and depending on who we get back if any this week, they are going to have to do it again."
On top of the previous injuries, wide-receiver and defensive back Reid Evans exited the game late in the first quarter with a season-ending leg injury last week and Steven Lyon has also been lost for the year.
Senior tailback Blake McCoy (242 yards, 2 touchdowns) and quarterback Jared Icenhower (100 yards, two touchdowns) led the Ironmen's rushing attack last week. Brice Graham (9-75), Caleb Haller (9-34, 2 TDs), Garrett Dailey (1-17), Evans (1-9), Caleb Storms (1-7), Devon Ball (1-3) and Payton Speakman (1-1) added to the Ironmen's rushing total of 487 yards in the win.
Icenhower also threw for 83 yards and a touchdown on 3 of 5 passing for the game.
Hillsboro (5-2, 1-1 FAC) is coming off a 34-41 win over Washington Court House last week and had a lot go right for them after its 42-20 loss to Chillicothe the week before.
The Indians run the wishbone attack, as well as the double-wing, inside-outside veer under Coach Jack O'Roarke, who built a winning program, running the very same offensive attack as the current Indians when he was at Vinton County in the late 1980s and 1990s.
"You hear all these college guys talking about the nightmare of playing Army, Navy and Air Force and how they can be successful with undersized players but they give big-time Division I schools problems and there's a reason for that. You don't see it anymore," said Hall. "Hillsboro, they have the perfect athletes to run that offense.
"They have a 250-pound fullback. They have a 230-pound halfback and smaller halfback, who is a great blocker and is fast. They have huge lineman with a small quarterback, who is quick so it is cut out perfect for them to run the option."
Discpline on defense will be a key to stopping the Indians on Friday night.
"If you don't do it, you won't see the football," said Hall. "They give up points and that's not as much of a concern for them because they are going to try and control the clock. Defensively, if you let those big backs fall forward and get three of four yards per carry, they will never punt the football.
"It's kind of like the old Ironton days under the wing-T. You better not let them get going because they will just run over you. They (Hillsboro) have the biggest backs we will have faced this year, by far and maybe the biggest linemen. We are not going to tackle any of those backs one-on-one. They are a load."
The two big backs combined for 340 yards rushing against Washington Court House last week.
Therefore, possessions will be key this week for the Ironmen.
"We have to score points and we can't turn the ball over," said Hall. "If we turn the ball over and give them more possessions, we will never get the ball. Every possession will be critical for us."
This week's game is looming large in the conference, as well as computer points.
"It's a must win for us, especially if we want to compete for an outright conference championship and keep our hopes alive for the playoffs," Hall said. "They are looking at the same thing. If they beat us, they have a chance of getting in the playoffs and they are competing for a conference title too.
"They already have one loss in the conference so they have to win Friday to remain in the hunt. We don't want to be in a situation where we are playing for a possible three-way tie in the final week of the season."
The Ironmen are currently ranked seventh in Region 11 in the OHSAA computer rankings in Division III, while Hillsboro is currently 11th.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be heard live on WKOV 96.7-FM with Dan Dobbins, Dan Morrow and Pete Wilson calling the action. The game can also be found on the internet at mixlr.com. Just type in WKOV in the search bar.