NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The St. Pat's and Hershey football teams both come into their week five match-up with records of 1-3.
The Panthers come into their game against St. Pat's having lost eight of the last nine match-ups, including the last five (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
"I'm feeling good about how we're playing in general. this last game really give us a good push in the right direction," said St. Pat's senior quarterback Dolan Branch.
"We've made some mistakes that we shouldn't have made, but I feel like we've been getting better. We're a good team I like it I like how we're playing right now," said Hershey senior fullback Coy McConnell.
The Panthers are coached by Greg Welch, who is in his first year at Hershey. The start to the season is not what the Panthers wanted, but they feel like they are getting better every week.
"We're better than we were in week one. We've had some problems that we shouldn't have, and we're just working through it, and keep moving forward," said senior center Levi Naranjo.
The two schools are less than 15 miles from each other, which makes this rivalry a special occasion for the players, fans, and communities in general.
"It's always a good football game, and we're two communities 12 miles apart, all the boys know each other, the families know each other, the communities know each other. So, there's a lot of pride on the line in a game like this," said St. Pat's head coach Kevin Dodson.
"We like to play them, they always bring a good team out. It's always a good game, we always feel like we're better out of the end of it," said St. Pat's senior lineman Michal Ekdahl.
"It's a whole different energy, everybody's more dialed in during the week and everything that we do is try to do the best that you can and don't screw up," Naranjo said.
"The whole situation, I think, is a lot of fun, and they're a great school, this is a great school. It's fun for the fans, the kids are excited. I think it's just what high school football is all about," Welch said.
The Irish are hoping the experience on their offensive line can help them get a win this week.
"We have an experienced line, me, Talan McGill, and Matthew Elsten are a few seniors on the line. We played last year so we're a lot more experienced," Ekdahl said, "I'm pretty optimistic about this week's game."
"The biggest part of it in a game like this is who can control the line of scrimmage and who can take advantage of any mistakes that might be made," Dodson said.
Meanwhile, Welch does not want the Panthers to give the Irish any mistakes to capitalize on.
"I think come out fast come out and do some good things early play good defense don't allow you big gains," Welch said on the key to the Panthers getting a win.
With these two communities so close to each other, the players on the two teams are friends with each other, but that all goes away when they step on that field.
"It's fun. While you're going it's kind of, you don't really like them, but afterwards we're always friends," Branch said, smiling.
"Everything goes away on the field. You're just trying to win. You could be friends later," Naranjo said.
Since 2003, the Irish are 11-3 against the Panthers, and have won the last five meetings between the two teams. Last year, the Irish defeated the Panthers 48-8 at home.