For the first time since the rivalry began, the Nation Ford-Fort Mill football game is being played in the middle of the season.
Normally slated for the last game of the regular season – often with a playoff berth of the line – the game was pushed up to this Friday when the schedule was released. Game time for the Milltown Showdown is 7:30 p.m. Friday at Nation Ford High School.
The game was moved from the end of the season to the middle of the season because of realignment in the region with South Pointe going out and Gaffney coming in and there being no real rival for Gaffney.
Fort Mill head coach Ed Susi said his team had gotten used to playing Nation Ford at the end of the season, which made it more fun, but either way it’s still playing a rival.
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“We are used to playing this at the end, but our kids are excited to play it,” Susi said. “It’s a great game and a great atmosphere to play in.”
In year’s past, the game has had playoff implications and while the playoffs are still down the road, a win in the game will go a long way in bolstering a team’s chance to make the playoffs. Fort Mill enters the game coming off a 14-7 win over Clover and now sits at 1-1 in Region III play and 5-2 overall. Coming off a bye, Nation Ford on the other hand will have nearly two weeks to prepare for the game against the Jackets and enters at 0-1 in the region and 2-4 overall.
“This is a critical game for us,” said Nation Ford head coach Michael Allen. “We are focusing on where we are and trying to right the ship.”
Nation Ford is looking to repeat this year after getting its first win over its rivals last season on the gridiron, while Fort Mill is looking to take back its title of Milltown champion.
“There is always motivation in a rivalry game when you don’t win,” Susi said. “So you can’t make that your only focus. We have to worry about stopping them and doing things right or we won’t win.”