Coaches may downplay intra-district rivalries, but players understand the significance of community bragging rights.
That will be the case Friday, Aug. 30, when the Dublin Coffman High School football team plays host to Dublin Jerome in the opener.
"There's tradition in the Dublin rivalries," said Sam McCollum, a junior first-year starting offensive lineman for Coffman. "You want to go out and see who is the best in Dublin."
Last season, Coffman beat Jerome 48-6 and finished 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Central Division.
The Shamrocks shared the league title with Hilliard Davidson.
Jerome finished 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Cardinal last year.
"We're definitely looking forward to it, but we try not to hype up any game," Celtics coach Mark Hundley said. "Every game is an important game.
"This is just week one. We have to go out and win it just like we do in week six, or week 10, or whatever."
James Walsh, a 2013 graduate now at Boston College, started at quarterback for the Shamrocks the past two seasons.
Last year, he was 128-for-213 passing for 2,038 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions and rushed for 558 yards and eight touchdowns.
Junior Ben Beckett (6-foot, 177 pounds) has an edge in experience over sophomore Gunnar Hoak (6-3, 178) in the battle to replace Walsh in the Shamrocks' spread, shotgun offense. Senior guard Jared Nunn (6-1, 327) is the only returning starter on offense.
The four returning Coffman defensive starters are all seniors in linebackers Jackson Hayes, Dalton Maynard and Erik Stein and lineman Kwabena Amponsah. Stein had 46 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks last year.
Jerome senior quarterback Jake King (6-0, 175) competed 72 of 146 passes for 793 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions last season.
Seniors Ian Beith (6-2, 205), Justin Stroup (6-0, 180) and Steve Kidwell (6-0, 190) are looking to fill the void at running back left by the graduation of Donovan Wilson, who now is at Georgia Tech after rushing for a program-record 2,068 yards last season and scoring 25 touchdowns.
"It doesn't matter who we play, we have to be fired up to play every team," Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said.