It’s not a playoff game, but don’t underplay the significance of the annual Columbia vs. Waterloo high school football battle.
It’s not only a battle for Monroe County football supremacy, it’s a matter of pride. The coaches and players know each other, many players grew up competing against, and in some cases, with each other.
It’s for bragging rights, too, and fans of both teams pack the parking lots for tailgate parties to help build excitement. Waterloo (1-0) has won six of the last 10 meetings, but Columbia (1-0, ranked 10th in the new Class 4A state poll) came out on top in two of the last three including a 31-12 victory last season.
Six of the previous 10 games were decided by a touchdown or less. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Columbia.
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“Typically in games like this, it brings out the best in all the players,” Columbia coach Scott Horner said. “It’s a good game, a lot of these guys grew up playing against one another or in some instances playing with one another. Everybody feels like they’ve got something to prove. You almost wish you could play every game like this because it brings out the best in all the kids.”
You almost wish you could play every game like this because it brings out the best in all the kids.
Columbia coach Scott Horner
Columbia is also holding its “Military Appreciation Night” in conjunction with popular local charity “Songs4Soldiers.” Military families will be honored on the field, all veterans in attendance will be acknowledged, pep clubs from both schools will make donations and have been selling military-themed T-shirts, and patriotic songs will be performed by individuals and the Columbia High marching band.
“All the kids know each other and Coach Horner and I know each other, but I think it’s more about the kids wanting to play in a big game,” Waterloo coach Dan Rose said. “That’s the fun of it. You get the essence of a really big football game in Week 2.”
Scouting Columbia: Columbia quarterback Greg Long came up huge in a 37-21 victory over Morton last Friday, running for two touchdowns, throwing a pair of TD passes and also kicking a 35-yard field goal. Long, who completed 19-of-24 passes for 214 yards, also had an interception on defense.
“It’s the plays that he can make with his feet,” Horner said. “Lots of times things broke down and he was able to make something out of nothing. Certainly Friday night even as crazy as things got at times, he kept his poise and helped lead the group.”
Columbia’s other top threats include junior running back Colton Byrd (105 yards and one TD on 16 carries) and receivers Jordan Holmes (eight catches, 64 yards, one TD; two interceptions on defense) and Mitch Daniels (six catches, 89 yards).
“They’re athletic,” Rose said. “They throw the ball and get the ball in space to their athletes. They’ve got good speed on offense and defense and get to the ball well. You’ve got to be prepared for that kind of fast attack.”
Scouting Waterloo: The Bulldogs needed two trips to Herrin last week because of a lightning delay, but finally finished off the Tigers 28-18 on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs had success pounding things out on the ground led by senior Scott Nanney (117 yards on 16 carries) and Dalton Viglasky (95 yards on 14 carries). Waterloo’s defense had five sacks.
“He’s got breakaway speed for us and when hits the hole he’s very shifty,” Rose said of Nanney. “When he makes a cut or two he can get vertical and be at full speed very quickly.”