As far as showdowns go, it’s difficult to imagine one being more epic than the Stratford-Goose Creek football game that’s about to be played on Friday night at Stackley Field.
Bragging rights, a region title and perhaps a No. 1 seed in the playoffs all hang in the balance when the two powers collide.
The Gators are 10-0 and Stratford 9-1 as they renew the rivalry.
“I would dare say it’s certainly the biggest game ever for Goose Creek (in the regular season),” Gators coach Chuck Reedy said.
In addition to those aforementioned things, the Gators’ 36-game win streak is on the line.
“All of those things play into it,” Reedy said. “They’ll be as good a football team as we’ve played in our 36-game win streak.”
With both teams likely headed to the Div. II bracket in the Class AAAA playoffs when the pairings are announced on Saturday, the possibility exists the two could hook up again in the postseason.
A Goose Creek victory would give the Gators the No. 1 seed and Stratford would likely fall back to at least a No. 4 or No. 5. Either seed would place the Knights and Gators squarely on another collision course in three weeks.
“There’s a chance we’ll see them again,” Reedy said. “If we’re the top seed and they’re the fourth seed, we could play in the (state semifinals).”
The Gators have won six straight in the series, including last season’s 31-23 victory at John Fulmer Field. The Knights (9-1) have not won in the city rivalry since hammering the Gators 45-14 in 2006.
The closest game during Goose Creek’s current stranglehold was 14-13 in 2009. They’ve won the rest by at least 11 points.
The showdown might have lost some luster when Stratford lost 26-14 to South Florence last week but the stands figure to be packed. Goose Creek did its part to remain unbeaten with a 49-21 win over West Ashley.
“It’s a huge game,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said. “They are a very talented team. We will have to play extremely well to be successful… As in the past, it should be a great spectator game between two city rivals with rich football traditions.”
There will be star power on the field too.
A total of seven Gators and Knights are heading to postseason all-star games.
Most recently, both the Gators and Knights were honored with two selections each to the North-South all-star game in Myrtle Beach.
For Goose Creek, those picks were defensive back Omar McRae and wide receiver Jordan Barnes. Stratford running back Jordan Johnson and linebacker Cecil Smith were also chosen.
A week earlier, Stratford quarterback Jacob Park, Goose Creek running back Caleb Kinlaw and Goose Creek defensive Kalan Ritchie were elected to the Shrine Bowl team.
“It’s for games like these that you get into coaching,” Reedy said.