The rivalry between Madison County and William Monroe was intense enough even when it was mainly about local bragging rights, but tonight when the teams from neighboring counties meet in Stanardsville, the stakes will be higher than they have been in years.
William Monroe comes in at 4-2 and 1-1 as a new member of the Bull Run District. Madison County, which finished second in the Bull Run and made the playoffs each of the past two seasons, is 3-4 and 1-2 in a district race that remains wide open.
“This is a very important game. Anything can happen right now in the district,” Monroe running back Doug Sizemore said. “So any district win right now is great, but I think it would feel a little better knowing the win came against Madison.”
Central Woodstock sits atop the Bull Run standings with a 3-1 record after knocking off the Greene Dragons last week, but almost every team in the district still has a shot at the title, or at least a playoff spot.
Of course, a loss this week would put either the Dragons or the Mountaineers in a tougher spot. Madison is also looking to avenge last year’s non-district loss to a then-Group AA Monroe team.
“The game means a lot more now, it gets more competitive because we are fighting for district rankings,” Madison wide receiver Travis Warren said. “But this game is important on many levels to us because Monroe was one of the only teams to beat us last year and also that if we can win this game it will increase the chances of going to the playoffs for us.”
Madison had owned the rivalry in recent years — winning four in a row from 2006 to 2009 by an average of 36 points — before Monroe scored a 36-19 win last year.
But regardless of the records, the district standings, playoff implications or previous results, the Madison-Monroe rivalry always boils down to a history of mutual respect and dislike that has led to packed stands each year whether the game is played in Madison or Greene County.
“Madison is a rivalry like no other,” WMHS tight end Zach Duprey said. “There is just something about Madison week. Everyone knows that its time to get serious because no matter what, its always a good game. Both teams give it their all.”
But people on both sides acknowledge that Monroe’s return to Group A and inclusion in the Bull Run may have turned the rivalry up a notch.
“I would say it’s the biggest rivalry we have, especially now that they are in the same district as us,” Warren said. “I know most of the guys I’m playing against and I’ve been competing against them for several years now so that just gives you the extra incentive to win.”