JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First-timers and long-timers alike are in a Northwest Classic state of mind.
And it's almost game time for Raines and Ribault.
The Vikings (3-2) visit the Trojans (2-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the 50th installment of the Northwest Classic. The game will be televised live on WJXT and News4Jax.com. The Vikings lead the all-time series 35-14 and have won the last two meetings.
Northwest Classic week is always a festive one, with things planned between the schools well before the game and even the day after. On Thursday, representatives from both teams took part in a small media day to talk about the significance of the rivalry and everything that surrounds it.
"I was just telling one of my players about one year, I was in the stands watching it in the Gator Bowl, the next year I was catching a touchdown my junior year," said Vikings coach Deran Wiley. "Just reflecting on some of the past and I tell you what man, it brings things full circle."
Some, like Trojans receiver Jawaun Johnson, have never been a part of Northwest Classic and are learning as they go.
"Being a part of this week is big," Johnson said. "Being a part of this whole week, it's just amazing. I like it. I love it. School is just bringing the energy more to me, making me more ready for the game."
Others, like Raines defensive back Treyvon Hobbs, have been in multiple classics and have come to appreciate the significance and lasting effect of the rivalry. This year's game is bigger. Not only are the teams in the same district for the first time since 2012,
"Our alums always at practice. This is like the biggest game for them, but I mean, it's a big game for us, too, because they're now in our district," Hobbs said. "They [former Raines players] put a little pressure on us, but it's all good. They just tell me how their experience was compared to how it is now. To be a part of the tradition, it's cool. Playing in it twice [before], I still think I'll be talking about it [years later]."