The football players at Western Albemarle don't need to be reminded of how the Warriors' two meetings with Monticello went last season.
"I have a bad taste in my mouth from last year," Western senior Tommy Mullin said Wednesday. "Both games, the playoff game especially. There's still a bad taste in my mouth and hopefully we come away with a win this time."
Western travels to Monticello for a showdown of 4-0 Jefferson District teams on Friday night. The Mustangs lead the all-time series between the cross-county rivals 11-4, including a pair of wins last year -- 50-36 in Crozet during the regular season, then 42-40 at home in the opening round of the Region II playoffs.
"Monticello is always a big game," said Western senior Daniel Kujzak. "We've had their name written on the board in the weight room since the beginning of the season and we're really looking forward to it. They're 4-0 also, and we feel basically this can decide the district."
Friday's game will be the first taste of this central Virginia rivalry for first-year Western Albemarle head coach Ed Redmond.
"I think the two things we have to do, we need to execute and we need to be disciplined," he said. "We need to be able to execute our gameplan offensively and defensively and in the end we need to be disciplined in our approach to the game."
At Monticello, the Mustangs spent Wednesday afternoon practicing on the turf of their home stadium. Monticello hasn't played a home game since beating George Wythe 51-12 on September 7. They've spent the past two weeks picking up big wins on the road -- 39-25 at Goochland two Fridays ago, followed by a 34-27 win at Louisa.
"I think it helps us as a program, because we expect to be in a dogfight. I think I've said that three weeks in a row now, and it's come true," Monticello coach Rodney Redd said of his team's tough early schedule. "So we're not going to be surprised when it's the fourth quarter, and it's still a nip-and-tuck game either way."
Redd's players say they feel battle-tested following their early wins.
"It's been tough," said junior T.J. Tillery. "But I think it's been better for us to start out tough, so that when we get later on the season, then it's just easier to play through the harder games."
"It's got us prepared pretty well. We know how to handle ourselves under pressure," agreed senior Sam Marshall. "Last year we played them twice. We played some tight ones (this year); played some games that we've blown out. And we know know how to handle the pressure."