It's yet another thing for Oxford's Jackson Stephens and Jarid Moore to focus when their jamboree opponent is state power Hoover, and the opposing coach used to be their coach.
Today's Champions Challenge between Oxford and Hoover will make for an interesting test to see which quarterback has more of the right stuff, not only to play against top competition, but to keep himself and teammates focused.
"It's going to be a great game, I think," said Stephens, a sophomore. "It's going to be mentally and physically tough.
"It's going to be nervous for a lot of people, but just play ball."
Moore, a senior, said the Yellow Jackets come well prepared to handle the pomp and circumstance surrounding what counts as a preseason exhibition.
"It's not going to be that much of a problem," he said. "We've got a game plan. We're ready to go.
"It's Hoover, but we don't really have to have that to get up. We've just got to focus in and execute our plays, and do what we're supposed to do and control what we do, and we'll be all right."
Oxford lost several seniors from 2008, including 15 starters, but the quarterback battle has taken center stage. The Yellow Jackets must find an heir for departed senior Judd Edwards.
The plot thickened in spring practice, when heir apparent Cain Hollingsworth, Edwards' backup, gave up football to focus on baseball.
The sense was that Hollingsworth would still have to win a competition, and Stephens and Moore have battled on since May.
Stephens took most of the first-team reps during Thursday's practice in Jacksonville State University's Paul Snow Stadium, but second-year Oxford coach John Grass said the competition remains open.
"Jackson has a little bit of an edge coming out of the scrimmage last week, but it's nip and tuck," Grass said. "I hope both of them do well today."
Despite emotions that are bound to swell from seeing former Oxford coach Josh Niblett on the opposing sideline, Grass said he's treating the game as an evaluation. He said he expects each quarterback to get equal reps.
"This is a good game to see what both of them can do in kind of a heated situation with a game that's on TV," Grass said. "… There's no doubt it will have an impact on who starts the opening game against Ben Russell."
Niblett resigned after the 2007 season to take the Hoover job. Oxford answered by hiring Grass away from Spain Park, the other high school in the Hoover system.
Oxford made Grass, then the Class 6A coach of the year, the state's highest-paid coach at $105,000 per year.
Recent history between the two programs adds intrigue to an Oxford-Hoover match-up in the Champions Challenge.
Moore was a sophomore in 2007, and Stephens was in the eighth grade. Each has developed into potential signal callers for the Yellow Jackets.
Stephens, the leader for the job, is more the pocket passer, but is younger. Moore brings more maturity.
"Jarid brings you a lot of just consistency and making some plays," Grass said. "Jackson is just a real talented kid. He's going to make a lot of plays in his career, and he is our quarterback of the future.
"They complement each other well."
Moore's maturity might be the ticket in a potentially emotional outing against a big-name program and a familiar coach. Then again, what if a young talent such as Stephens shows he can make plays in that crucible?
Grass said he wants a clear-cut starter. He doesn't see both quarterbacks playing into the regular season.
"I'd like to get it resolved quicker than that," he said. "I'm not a proponent of the two-quarterback system. … I'm not a proponent of, when one makes a mistake, then yank him out and put the other one in."
Champions challenge: Oxford vs. Hoover at Cramton Bowl, Montgomery
Today, 7:30 p.m.