Richwood (9-3) at Sterlington (12-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Not that the first one didn't matter, but this is the one that really counts.
District 2-3A rivals Richwood (9-3) and Sterlington (12-0) collide for the second time in four weeks Friday night. Kickoff time for the Class 3A state quarterfinal encounter is set for 7 p.m. at Panther Field.
Sterlington won the first meeting 28-21 in the regular season finale to claim the conference championship and the No. 1 seed.
"As long as I have been doing this, I can never remember playing someone twice in the same season," said Sterlington coach Lee Doty, who has spent the bulk of his coaching career in Mississippi. "It could happen in Mississippi the way it's set up, but it would be the semifinals at the earliest."
Rematches have their advantages and disadvantages.
With Sterlington having won the first game, the revenge factor is in the Rams' favor. Advantage Richwood.
Sterlington is at home this time around after traveling in Week 10. Advantage Sterlington.
"It's going to be a different environment for us, and a different environment for them as well," Doty said. "We set ourselves up to be at home. That's why you fight so hard to be a higher seed."
Despite the proximity of the two schools, Nov. 2 marked their first meeting on the gridiron. Now they are about to play for the second time this season. Push.
"It's a familiar foe," Doty said. "You know what you are going to get. I'm not sure they won't do something different, and we may do something different, but it's two familiar teams. I would have to say it's about as evenly-matched as you would want. It's the quarterfinals, that's the way the system is designed, and that's the way it's supposed to be."
Richwood, the No. 8 seed, advanced to the third round with wins over No. 25 North Vermilion (20-17) and No. 9 Loranger (20-14).
Round 1 was a game of spurts as the Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 second quarter lead, the Rams reeled off 21 unanswered points, and Sterlington capitalized on a pair of turnovers to grab a 28-21 lead with just under nine minutes to play.
Richwood took the lead behind its vertical passing game as Joseph Smith connected with Mississippi State commit Geor'Quarius Spivey, Zion Stokes and TCU pledge Hidari Ceasar on touchdown passes of 58, 41 and 81 yards.
"They have the two D-1 commitments at receiver, and No. 4 (Stokes) could be the most dangerous of the three," Doty said. "They have three guys who would be the No. 1 receiver on any team we have played."
Smith completed 13-of-23 passes for 275 yards.
Meanwhile, the Panthers rushed for 316 yards as tailback Austin Dupree carried 32 times for 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Sterlington has advanced to the quarters with victories over No. 32 seed Baker (63-30) and No. 16 Donaldsonville (28-18).
Dupree (182-1,548-17) leads the Panthers' deep rushing attack, followed by quarterback Carson Clowers (78-693-8), fullback Luke Denman (112-527-9), tailback Dallas Reagor (63-477-4) and fullback Jordan Townsend (42-181-5). Doty said Monday that Townsend, who missed the second half of the Donaldsonville game with an injury, will be available Friday night.
Clowers has completed 63-of-110 passes for 835 yards with 10 touchdowns vs. 3 interceptions.
Tight end Brooks Rushworth (26 receptions, 435 yards, 7 TDs) is the Panthers' top receiver. Rushworth has also punted 26 times for a 41.4-yard average, with 13 punts downed inside the 20.
Defensively, the Panthers are paced by linebacker Dawson Snell (120 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 INTs, 5 forced fumbles) and tackle Chandler Moncrief (67 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT).
Rounding out the starting defense are ends Tanner Coley (56 tackles, 4 TFL, 3.5 sacks) and Justin Fuller (46 tackles), nose tackle Colby Rivera (41 tackles, 2 TFL, 2.5 sacks), linebackers Chase Carter (46 tackles) and Bailyn McKoin (31 tackles), cornerbacks Dorian Eddins (36 tackles, 2 INTs) and Tray Eddins ( 43 tackles, 2 INTs) and safeties Trevor Jones (60 tackles, 1 INT) and Chris Parker (36 tackles, 2 INTs).
Landon Green has made 57-of-59 extra points. Three of his kickoffs went for touchbacks vs. Donaldsonville.
NEXT: Friday's winner will be paired against the No. 5 Kaplan-No. 4 St. James victor in the semifinal round.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 West Feliciana travels to No. 14 Northwest while No. 18 Crowley visits No. 10 Jennings.
WEEKLY AWARDS: Sterlington's Week 12 Players of the Week were Brooks Rushworth (offense), Dawson Snell (defense), Landon Green (special teams), Matthew Husser (scout team defense) and Ty'Reese Mitchell (scout team offense).