Sierra and Harrison both have had seasons to forget. One victory Friday will make it a year worth remembering.
Of course, it'll come at the other's expense.
When the Stallions (1-5, 0-1 3A Southern League) meet the Panthers (1-5, 0-1) at 7 p.m. at a sold-out Memorial Stadium, neither will dwell on previous disappointments, just the battle at hand for these longtime Harrison School District 2 rivals.
"We want to win as many games as we can," Sierra junior quarterback Will Nelson said. "But beating Harrison is just as good as going undefeated for us. We lost by one point last year, so that makes us want to win more this time."
A 13-12 decision last October marked Harrison's only win of the 2012 season. That in itself made the year a success, largely in part because it meant the Panthers retained the Superintendents' Trophy, which last went to Sierra in 2010.
"This is like our Super Bowl," Panthers senior Darius Graves said. "There's nothing like holding up that trophy. Last year's win made our season. All season long, people were giving up. When it came down to it, we came out on top. It's all about pride and who wants it more."
The contest features an odd contrast of teams that are struggling for different reasons. Harrison, which already has lost two quarterbacks to season-ending injuries, has scored only 77 points, fourth fewest among the 45 schools in 3A.
Meanwhile, Sierra's defense, after shutting out Middle Park in the season opener, has given up 222 points since. Only six teams have yielded more points in 3A.
Then again, throw the stats, and the records, out the window in this one.
"Regardless of how the season is going for either team, both teams want to win this game in the worst way," Panthers seventh-year coach Al Melo said. "If you're going to win a game, it might as well be that one. I know the kids at Sierra feel the same way."
And in a season of failed expectations, one triumphant night won't fix everything, but will go a long way in terms of pride and bragging rights.
"I wanted more from this year," Stallions senior running back and linebacker Maleek Spencer said. "We were hoping to win more games, but the Harrison game means a lot. We want to get the trophy back. To lose to these guys again, I don't want that my senior year. It's all about who wants it the most."