FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - Whether you’ve been there before or it’s your first chance, there’s something special about walking on the field for a state championship game. Eric Flores has been waiting.
"I've been dreaming about this since 2013, the last time Northside Grizzlies won state. I always dreamed of myself playing there and winning a state championship."
Willie Hernandez remembers the feeling.
"Last year, it was really something special, because not everyone gets to play there, in the U of A stadium"
For the Rogers Mounties, it’s a triumphant return to a stage where they won their first title just last year. Head coach Stephen Peck knows hopes those memories carry the team through this year's game.
"The experience of last year, for those guys who are still here, is tremendous. One, it kind of made them hungry to be back there, and two, my four seniors have become great leaders, partly because of that experience."
The team graduated twelve players from last year's championship team, and current senior Hernandez says that was a challenge.
"This year it’s a new team, and that’s how we started off a little rough in the beginning, but we were able to find the chemistry, and I think now, knowing we’re in the finals again, it’s really big for us."
No one on this Northside team has won a state title, but the coaches have, and head coach Mauricio Maciel hopes he can share his experiences with his team.
"We have been there several times, and hopefully we can transmit it to the boys, that hey, whoever plays hard but relaxed, is usually the one that is going to control the match."
Of course, it will all come down to this year's player, playing in this year's game. Northside and Rogers kick off at noon on Friday to decide the 7A boys soccer state championship.