They have met on the football field 50 times in the past but only one game matters when Solon makes the short bus trip down the road to Twinsburg Friday night.
The Comets and the Tigers will renew one of the oldest and fiercest rivalries in the area with computer points, a possible NOC Valley Division crown and a lot of pride on the line. Solon, ranked 13th in the state poll, is coming off a 44-20 loss to unbeaten Mentor, snapping the Comets' 20-game home winning streak. Twinsburg once again had its offense in high gear in a 42-21 rout of Brunswick and is tied for the division lead with Mentor.
This is an old fashioned rivalry, the kind of game that often fades away due to league realignments over the years.
"This is a great rivalry and a god opportunity for us to come back and play against a good team," said Solon head coach Jim McQuaide. "They have a great running back, good team speed and an aggressive defense. I want to see how intense we are for this game."
John Barton and Jalen Washington have the Tigers (5-2) scoring points from everywhere on the field this season. The elusive Barton scored six touchdowns Friday night, including runs of 72 and 92 yards, and now has 25 six-pointers on the season. He has rushed for 892 yards and has 23 receptions for another 390 yards. Washington has been outstanding as well, throwing for 1,229 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions with a lofty 147.42 quarterback rating.
"John is doing what he's doing because of his work ethic," said Tiger head coach Joe Schiavone. "And most of our offense runs through Jalen, who has been improving from week to week."
Solon put itself in a deep hole early in the game against Mentor but battled back to score just before halftime on an acrobatic touchdown catch by Tres Barksdale. The Comets became the latest victims of a Cardinal five-receiver offense that generated 471 yards.
"We gave them great field position with turnovers and they took advantage of it," said McQuaide of Mentor, the team Twinsburg hosts in the final week of the regular season. "We played well at times and other times didn't play well at all."
Solon welcomed back speedy running back Khoury Crenshaw, who had been sidelined since the opening week of the season due to a concussion. The Comets know they will have to run the ball against a Tiger defense that has traditionally been one of the best in Northeast Ohio.
"Our kids know that this is the best team we will have faced all season," said Schiavone. "They do a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. Our kids are pretty pumped for this game and we'll know where we're at when the final gun sounds."
Solon won the last meeting between the two teams in convincing fashion with a 43-7 victory in 2007. The Comets hold a commanding 40-7-3 edge in the rivalry's 50-game history.
"This game is so important for our seniors, who have never lost a (regular season) varsity football game in their careers," said McQuaide. "We lost but that's the real world -- we have to pick ourselves up and play this week. I'd be shocked and disappointed if we don't play well."
Twinsburg is fighting for its playoff hopes as the Tigers are in 14th place in the Division I, Region 2 computer rankings this week. A win over Solon would change that in a heartbeat.
"We know we don't get as much respect as the Solons and Mentors but we will continue to go about our business the same as we do every week," said Schiavone.
Taking care of business will be priority number one for these two old foes when they kick it off Friday night.