When the Columbus Academy football team played Amanda-Clearcreek in the biggest game in program history in 2003, senior lineman Donovan Simpson was 2 years old.
The Vikings won the Division V state title in that game, defeating the Aces 13-8. The teams also met in the 2006 playoffs, with the Aces winning 36-9.
Of course, Simpson has no memories of the 2003 game, but he has heard stories about its significance. The history will be revisited this week as the Vikings prepare to face the Aces on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Amanda-Clearcreek in the first round of the Division V, Region 19 playoffs.
The fourth-seeded Aces are 8-2 while the fifth-seeded Vikings are 7-3 and on a five-game winning streak.
A valuable resource for Simpson on the 2003 game has been John Street, who one year later joined the program as an assistant coach. He has since returned as an honorary coach under coach Robin Miller and is a calculus and psychology teacher at the school.
"He talks about how Amanda-Clearcreek must have marched out 100 guys and we didn't have a whole lot of guys, and we still won," Simpson said. "Apparently, it was a sight to see. ... We want to go over there and win again."
The winner plays top-seeded Ironton or eighth-seeded Wellston in a regional semifinal Nov. 16 at a neutral site.
"We want to not just be happy being in (the playoffs)," Miller said. "We want to make a little noise and keep this season going. The playoffs are so unique. (The) kids are tired. They're worn down. Some kids are looking forward to basketball, wrestling or hockey. It's a long season. It's a grind and you want to try to find that second wind and, knowing that it could end at any second, hopefully they cherish it and make the most of it."
The Aces compete in the MSL-Buckeye Division and went 5-1 in the league to share the title with Bloom-Carroll and Teays Valley.
Miller said Amanda-Clearcreek relies heavily on a power running game led by quarterback Peyton Madison and running back Jayse Miller.
"They have some size up front," coach Miller said. "They maul you when they get in their power set. They'll put in a couple tight ends (and) a fullback or two. They run downhill. The quarterback is an extra running threat. They just seem awfully strong and they have a lot of different formations and schemes on offense that makes it difficult to prepare for."
Jayse Miller rushed for three touchdowns and added a touchdown reception in a 28-6 win at Logan Elm on Nov. 1. The Aces finished with 396 total yards, including 305 on the ground.
After failing to make the playoffs last season, Academy secured its berth by defeating host Bexley 41-0 on Nov. 1. Brady Hess passed for 199 yards and three touchdowns and Carter Warstler had seven receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Academy went 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio to finish second behind Harvest Prep (6-0).
"When we were in the playoffs (in 2017) and we beat (Belmont) Union Local (13-6 in the first round), that was the best feeling I've ever felt playing football and I hope to do it again this year," Simpson said. "Amanda-Clearcreek is going to put up a good fight, but if we play our game, we can win."