JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 50th installment of the Northwest Classic football game is days away and that means Raines-Ribault is in full swing.
Everything but the football, that is. That doesn't come until Saturday at 2 p.m., when the teams will meet at Ribault. The game will be televised on WJXT, the fifth high school football game that this station has shown live since last season.
But that's what makes the Northwest Classic an event all of its own. It's a week's worth of events, pageantry, competition, honoring and celebrating the history between the two programs.
Look on social media and the excitement -- and barbs -- is everywhere.
Vikings fans chide Trojans fans. Ribault faithful respond with Raines memes of their own. It's an ongoing, yearlong debate, with the winner of the Northwest Classic grabbing bragging rights until 2020.
On Monday night, Ribault struck first, topping Raines in the teams' annual alumni basketball game, 75-70. On Tuesday night, cheerleading squads went head to head in a cheer off that packed the gym at Ribault.
That's just the intro to one of the busiest and most celebrated weeks of the year at the two schools, which are separated by less than a mile.
Companion events around the game continue, with the schools hosting a student exchange Wednesday, a Golden Gala honoring the five decades of the rivalry on Thursday night, pep rallies on Friday, a parade and tailgate on Saturday and a Ribault hall of fame induction ceremony on Sunday.