For two powers of the 4A-1, it's almost as if the real season starts Friday. Or at least, for Shiloh Christian and Prairie Grove, this is when things start to feel important.
"If we win this Friday it really shows that we're the real deal."
"It's the first real competition we've had, so it's pretty important for us."
While the players get hyped for Friday night, Shiloh coach Jeff Conaway understands the season-long implications of the meeting.
"Everybody in the conference is chasing that seed, and everybody that has a chance to be that one seed wants it. This is one of those big weeks, it's a big game every year."
Since 2002 this has been a pretty even series, with the Tigers winning six times to the Saints five. The last two years though, Prairie Grove has won pretty handily. Prairie Grove senior Will Hawkins thinks the Tigers have cracked the code
"You gotta pop that quarterback in the mouth like we did last year. I mean, you get him scared, they're done for."
But Tiger head coach Danny Abshier doesn't sound like a man who's team won last year's meeting by 30 points.
"We got caught out of position last year a couple times, so if we can cut down on mistakes I think that helps."
Prairie Grove has held every conference opponent to 14 or less; Shiloh hasn't scored less than 20 all season. Both coaches know that in this match-up of high flying flash and grind it out grit, the battle starts with the big boys on the line.
"It's the match up front, can we establish the run, can we protect the quarterback," says Conaway.
Abshier, in typical fashion, points to this as a place his team can improve upon last years performance.
"I say if we can control the line of scrimmage better than we did last year, then we'll be able to run more effectively, and we would be able to pass a little better, and not just scramble and get rid of it."
The home team has won this match-up nine of the last 11 times, and Prairie Grove gets the honor Friday night at 7.