Brookstone hosts Pacelli on Friday night in the annual battle for the Broocelli Jug.
Friday will mark the 45th meeting all-time between the two schools with Brookstone leading the series 27-16-1. The two teams have met every year since 1972; in 1988, Brookstone also defeated Pacelli 31-13 in a GHSA region semifinal playoff game.
In addition to the rivalry, it’s a chance for both schools to improve on their Region 4-A, Div. A record.
The Vikings enter Friday’s game at 1-4 and 1-1 in the region, dropping a 56-14 region game to Marion County on Sept. 9 but eking out a 7-6 victory over winless Central-Talbotton last Friday night to even their record.
The Cougars, meanwhile, come in at 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the region, winning their first game against a region foe last Friday with a 37-0 shutout against Greenville.
“It was very clear to me early on when I got here that (the Pacelli game) is a season in itself,” Brookstone head coach Scott Pethtel said. “Regardless of what record they have, we have to gear up and play at our best. That’s how we’re approaching it.”
The Cougars will also have to battle adversity as starting quarterback Russell Blanchard suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter of their win over Greenville and will be out for tonight’s contest.
“We’re not going to change a lot,” Pethtel said. “We’ve got Frank Waldrep, who was playing wide receiver for us and is very familiar with the offense. He’s been practicing since the summer as a backup quarterback. He’s very knowledgeable and able to run the offense.”
Pethtel hopes to use the momentum from last week’s win after dropping the previous two games to propel him to a victory over the Vikings.
“It was a good feeling to win a football game again,” Pethel said. “We played two really tough teams back to back. We knew they were going to be tough going in, but we hoped it would season us up.”
For Pacelli, head coach Buster Connally also hopes to use last week’s win as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“It’s just a game that goes back,” Connally said. “Both sides get a lot out of it, and it brings out the best competition out of both schools. It’s an opportunity for us to try to play our best football, which we’ve still yet to do.
“We can’t get caught up in all the extra stuff. We practiced hard this week, and we’ve got to execute what we know we can do. We’ve got to not make mistakes, and we have to focus on the fact that it’s the next game at hand.”
With the only win so far this season a 7-6 squeaker last week over a Central-Talbotton team that has lost its four games so far in 2016 by a combined score of 146-25, Connally and the Vikings have also been working on the basics this week in preparation for the game.
“We haven’t tackled well,” Connally said. “We spent a lot of time (in practice) making sure we’ve got those fundamentals covered. We’ve got a very young football team, not just in age, but experience, so we’re just getting back to basics, doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We repeat plays on offense until all 11 kids are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing, not 10 doing right and one doing wrong. It’s just the little things on both sides of the ball.”
The hype around the rivalry between Brookstone and Pacelli also goes beyond the players on the sideline on Friday nights.
“There’s a fundraising event we have with Chick-fil-A this week,” Connally said. “(Whichever school) makes the most purchases at designated Chick-fil-As, they’ll donate $1,000 to the school. It gives us an opportunity to compete that way.
“Our kids get to do some special things during the week as far as our students go. They get to support our football team. Our lower school adopts a football player and interacts with them all week.”
Like any good rivalry, however, records go out the window on both sides when the Cougars and Vikings tangle. It’s all about The Jug and bragging rights among the two major Fountain City private schools.
“Records don’t count,” Pethtel said. “I know Buster is a good man and a head coach, and he’ll have his team ready to fight.”
High school football schedule
Thursday, Sept. 29
- Hardaway vs. Westover (at Kinnett), 7 p.m.
- Kendrick at Rutland, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30
- Northside vs. Columbus (at Kinnett), 7:30 p.m.
- Carver vs. Shaw (at Memorial), 7:30 p.m.
- Harris County at Worth County, 7:30 p.m.
- Pacelli at Brookstone, 7:30 p.m.
- Community Christian at Calvary Christian, 7:30 p.m.
- Central-Talbotton at Manchester, 7:30 p.m.
- Pelham at Chattahoochee County, 7:30 p.m.
- Enterprise at Central, 8 p.m.
- Prattville at Smiths Station, 8 p.m.
- Stanhope Elmore at Russell County, 8 p.m.
- Glenwood at Pike Liberal, 8 p.m.