Archrivals Princeton and Rosewood are facing off for the 64th time on Thursday evening. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
And even though the two teams are no longer in the same conference, with Princeton moving up to the 2A ranks, this game is still the most important game of the season for both teams.
“No matter what, it’s still one of the best rivalries in the state. We’re eight miles apart, and we have kids on both teams who have grown up together, and some are related,” Rosewood head coach Robert Britt said. “It’s still a big game for both of us. The past few years, it’s been for a conference championship, but this year, it’s still for bragging rights.
“It wouldn’t matter if it was the only game we played all year. It’s Princeton versus Rosewood, and it’s been the absolute best atmosphere of any game that we play each and any year,” Princeton head coach Travis Gaster added. “It’s a rivalry game, and our kids looking forward to playing them, and their kids look forward to playing us.”
The Bulldogs have won five of the last six against the Eagles and eight of the last 12 in the series since 2010.
Last week, Princeton rallied from a 17-14 halftime to defeat East Duplin 36-30. Running back Jaydon Brooks rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, while Christian Perris rushed 218 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.
Gaster is not taking Princeton’s recent on-field success against Rosewood for granted because he knows how tough it is the beat Rosewood.
“I don’t think there’d ever be a time that we’d overlook each other in this rivalry. It’s as big as it can be and as important as it can be to this community,” Gaster said. “It’s a good spot to be in after a big win because there is no talk of East Duplin anymore.”
In a 40-0 victory last week, Rosewood controlled every phase of the game North Johnston, but Britt said slowing down Princeton’s offense is a tall order.
The Rosewood defense will need to make the right reads and get to the right area against Princeton’s Wing-T offense that averages 467 rushing yards a game.
“Princeton is going to score points, and they’ve shown that year in and year out, so when it’s our turn to score, we have to put the ball in the endzone,” Britt said. “They do what they do really well.”
Princeton and Rosewood have faced off at the end of the season for the past handful of seasons, but with the game coming earlier in the season, both coaches said a victory on Thursday is an excellent springboard into the rest of the season.