ENDICOTT (WBNG) - Union-Endicott and Vestal battled on the football field twice in 2016. Both games had memorable finishes fitting for one of the best rivalries in Section IV. This season, the Tigers enter 12 Sports' Game of the Week 5-0 and ranked eleventh in the state in Class A. Vestal, meanwhile, is 4-1 having won three games in a row.
"Vestal-UE, there's nothing like this," said Union-Endicott head coach Tommy Baleno.
"They love this," said Union-Endicott defensive coordinator Marcus Zimmer. "(The kids have) been waiting for this all year."
"It's been around for 100 years at least," said Baleno.
"You're a two minute drive away," said Zimmer.
"(It's) really the essence of what Section IV football, what community rivalries are all about," said Baleno.
Between the overtime thriller in the regular season, and the defensive battle in the Section IV championship game, the case can be made that Vestal-U-E is the best rivalry going in Section IV right now.
"I like the pressure," said Baleno. "I like seeing how the kids response to the pressure. We have a 'no-die' attitude and hopefully we'll win the fourth quarter."
"Well, we got the goal line stand in the Section IV championship, and I remember giving up the touchdown in the regular season," said Zimmer.
"(The) defensive play last year was very nice to see," said Union-Endicott offensive coordinator Scott Osman. "Those goal line stands were huge. They were big momentum shifts for us, and obviously, coming out victorious in the end was nice."
This year, both offenses are enter the game firing on all cylinders. The Golden Bears put up 42 points on Ithaca last Thursday night.
"We just need to play our assignments," said Zimmer. "Making sure that we make our reads. Just continue to play good, solid, mistake-free football on the defensive side of the ball."
Friday could be the first of two meetings between these Class A foes, if they faceoff again in the playoffs.
"Always that possibility of seeing them twice," said Osman. "You can't hold back for a second game. You may not get that second game, so you have to take it one game at a time. Everything is on the board this week. Everything is there."
If last year is any indication, when U-E and Vestal get together anything is possible.
"We saw some good and we saw some bad last year," said Zimmer. "The first time was a shootout. The second time was a defensive battle. So, I don't know what we're going to see, but I think it's going to be a battle regardless."
Kickoff Friday night at Vestal High School is set for 7 p.m.