LINCOLN -- The 73rd edition of the Lincoln-Munford high school football rivalry will kick off Friday night at 7 at Keith Howard Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Munford owns a three-game winning streak against its archrival and leads the series 36-34-1.
Bill Smith is in his second season as Munford head coach, and he said he knows how important this rivalry is to both communities.
“This game is not a region game and it probably won’t affect the playoff race, but this is one of the most important games to the Munford and Lincoln communities for the whole year,” Smith said. “We have had a really good week of practice. We appear to be focused and, hopefully, we can play our best as we go on the road.”
Brad Wallace is looking for his first win against Munford as Lincoln’s head coach. Wallace played for Lincoln in the 1990s and said he believes the rivalry is just as intense as when he played.
“I have been here for four years, and this week, we have talked about Munford a great deal,” Wallace said. “That is a little bit different. I think our kids are excited about playing this ballgame. It is a rivalry that nobody will ever understand.
“It is Alabama-Auburn, but it is in high school football. It is a tough game every year, and year-in-and year-out you can throw your record out. You are going to get 100 percent effort out of each one of the kids on both sides of the football.”
The Lions (3-1) used a strong second half to defeat region foe Tallassee 36-22 last week to take over first place in Class 4A, Region 3. Senior quarterback Avery Harris had a huge game for the Lions. Harris threw for 203 yards and a touchdown; he also rushed for 119 yards and a score.
“I think it really helped us mature and grow up as a team,” Smith said of the win. “We had some adversity during the game. It was back and forth -- it was a little messy in the first quarter. In our first seven plays, we had four penalties called on us. It took us a while to get going. We started the second half down one and we really finished the game strong. I was really proud of the way our kids finished.”
The Golden Bears (2-2) defeated Valley 19-14 to extend their winning streak to two games. Lincoln’s defense has stepped up over the last two weeks, holding opponents to a total of 20 points.
Wallace said he is pleased with the improvement he has seen from his team the last few weeks, but he knows the Golden Bears will have to play a close-to-perfect game in order to knock off Munford.
“I am excited about our team,” Wallace said. “We got into a slump after the Leeds game (a 21-7 loss in the season opener Aug. 19), but we picked ourselves back up. We understand where we have to get better and we have gotten better.
“We have to cut out some of our mental mistakes that we make on our drives. It kills you when you have first-and-10 and you get a flag.”
Smith said his team will have to be aware of where Lincoln’s playmakers are on the field. He said he believes it is going to vital for his team to get off to a quick start against a Golden Bears team that’s going to play hard for 48 minutes.
“We need to start fast,” Smith said. “We need to weather the storm early, because it will be a loud home crowd for Lincoln. Hopefully, our crowd will match their intensity.
“We have done a really good job of taking care of the ball. In the past three weeks, we have done a really good job of taking the ball away. We are up on out take away/ turnover differential; we need to continue that trend. We have been playing well on special teams and we need to continue that trend.
“If we take care of the ball, play physical, if we are able to run the ball, stop the run and not give up the big plays, we like our chances. “
Wallace said he is excited to see how his kids match up against the Lions’ explosive offense that averages 32 points per game. Wallace said he believes if his team can avoid making mental errors on offense and not allow any big plays, it will have a chance to defeat Munford for the first time since 2012.
“We have to eliminate penalties, “Wallace said. “We have to win the turnover battle and we are going to have to play great defense.”