PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - No matter the decade, when Beechwood and Pikeville meet, it's always a battle.
"What I know is they are a hard nose football team," said senior tight end/receiver JT Orem.
Friday afternoon, the two programs will square off for a state title in their 17th meeting.
"They play every down like it is their last and they play hard, and we do too," said Orem.
Writing another chapter in the storied rivalry.
"It goes way back, I think when I was in high school we played them in the playoffs, for years, it's been a lot of Beechwood and Pikeville. Of course, the last time was 2015," said Pikeville football head coach Chris McNamee.
The Panthers won that last matchup to claim their fourth state championship.
However this go-around, Beechwood enters the game as back-to-back state champions.
"Beechwood has been every year since that year (2015), so experience-wise they have the advantage but our guys are hungry and looking forward to get there," said McNamee.
But the players prepared this week like it's a normal game.
"It's just another ballgame, we really don't look at it like past or future, we don't look behind us. It's just another ballgame that we are getting ready to play," said junior linebacker Jon Collum.
Pikeville and Beechwood have met twice in the state title game. First in 1991. The Tigers lead the all-time series ten to five.
"We know what kind of program they have, and we know when you get to the state championship game, regardless of who is there, the football teams there are good," McNamee said.
Coach McNamee is undefeated in state championship games, once as a player, the only other time as a coach.
"There's only two left, they should be the best two in the state and that's what we think we've got this year," McNamee said. "You can't play anymore and this is the last chance that anybody has to play, so go out and make the best of it."
The Panthers and Tigers meet Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. for the Class 1A State Championship.