(WTVM) - By Kim Smith email
It's the big night where we revive Hometown Spirit, and we begin with one of the biggest rivalries in the area.
Jordan and Columbus High School have a long-standing tradition that dates back more than 100 years, and it's back on tonight after a two-year break.
The two programs kick off for their opener at Kinnett Stadium.
This game is big for several reasons. The alumni and the community have this game circled every year and after a two year hiatus, I can tell you the trash talking and the anticipation for this game has been going on all week..
I have been following both teams through preseason practices, and both programs have the same mission: win and prove ourselves on this field.
Columbus High has only won one game in the past two seasons, and this is the year they want to really focus on finishing. Coach Phil Marino told me they had several opportunities that slipped away in the second half last season
This year the blue devils come back with 10 returning on defense and seven on offense.
But unfortunately they lost a key guy in Ivan Rome, who went down with a leg injury in last week's practice. Rome would have been a four year starter at tailback and they were expecting big things out of him this season.
"Ivan has been playing with me since I've been a little boy," said Dale Williams, Columbus tailback and receiver. "I've played every game with him.. and when he went down I knew it was going to hurt our team, but we are looking to step up and complete our goals of winning the first 4 non-region games."
"We're coming from a record of 1 and 9 and that says a lot so... we're trying to come into this season with something to show for real," said Columbus linebacker Ladi Dada.
Now the Jordan Red Devils are in a similar situation, coming off a two-win season. But those two wins are a sign of progress for a team that went 26 games without a single win. Players can feel the change in their attitude and their program.
"I feel a lot better than i did my freshman year," said Jordan receiver Javante West. "Because when we came in we had a lot of people who didn't care about us and people who didn't show us love, but now everybody is a team. Everybody is together as one."
"We're starving... it feels like we ain't ate yet," said Timothy Griggs, Jordan running back. "And we got to eat this year... The atmosphere is different and everything about the team is different...The way we practice and the way we carry ourselves… It's just different."
Both of these teams are hoping that difference will translate onto the field tonight
Coming up at 6, we look a little deeper into this rivalry, and we catch up with the coaches from Jordan and Columbus as our Hometown Spirit coverage continues.