2 fierce rivals are back at it on Jefferson County Friday Night Football.
It was a thrilling finish in the first encounter earlier this season.
The Hawks won 34-29, but the Tigers were driving for the lead with less than a minute to play.
That win for top-seeded Hillsboro is part of a current 7-game win streak to reach 8-1.
The Hawks won an outright conference championship this season for the first time since 2017 behind a dynamic duo of junior running backs.
Jaxin Patterson has rushed for over 1,200 yards for the third straight season, while Austin Romaine has over 900 yards from scrimmage.
Hillsboro head coach Bill Sucharski says having that kind of depth allows everyone to stay fresh.
But Hillsboro’s greatest strength has been a dominant defense.
The Hawks give up just under 11 points per game and have recorded 5 shutouts.
Senior linebacker Tyler Watson says they’ve put brawn and brains together.
Fourth-seeded Festus may be the defending district champion, but they have been on the short end of the stick in some thrillers.
Along with 6 wins, the Tigers’ 4 losses have come by just a combined 24 points.
Despite some close calls, Festus head coach A.J. Ofodile thinks the experience has served his team for the better.
Festus has been explosive on offense, scoring almost 40 points per game.
Tigers senior quarterback Cole Rickermann has thrown for better than 2,600 yards to set a new single-season school record, and junior wide receiver Arhmad Branch has more than 1,000 yards receiving and averages over 30 yards per catch.
But Ofodile is hoping to establish a more consistent running game behind senior tailback Kaian Roberts-Day.
The Hawks have beaten the Tigers in eight of the last 9 meetings, including the last playoff game in 2015.
Hillsboro hosts Festus in the Class 4 District 1 semifinals Friday evening.
Coverage of Jefferson County Friday Night Football starts at 6 on AM 1400 KJFF.