A few of the games will determine postseason positioning, others will decide playoff berths, and some will be for nothing more than pride.
But across District 11 this weekend, there will be one constant theme – rivalries.
From the western borders of Schuylkill County, to the southern most points of the Lehigh Valley, the northern reaches of the Poconos, and the eastern edges of the Slate Belt, it will be "Rivalry Week."
Friends will battle friends and neighbors will go against neighbors. They will play in rivalry games are as diverse as the regions where they will played.
Mahanoy Area and Shenandoah, a pair of Coal Region towns separated by a few miles on Route 54, will be playing for a District 11 playoff berth. The winner is in and the loser more than likely is out.
Allentown School District teams Allen and Dieruff will both bring 0-9 records into their game. Only one team will avoid a winless season.
In the Mountain Valley Conference, it will be (Pocono Mountain) East vs. West and (East Stroudsburg) North vs. South in games between school districts that just a decade ago had no directional points in their names.
A few weeks ago, the Bangor-Pen Argyl game looked like it might pit a pair of unbeatens playing for the Colonial League title. Although the Green Knights held up their end of the bargain, Bangor stumbled a couple of times down the stretch. With both teams already in the playoffs, this is now JUST for bragging rights.
From one end of the district to the other, all four of those games and dozens of others share a common bond. No matter if the teams are unbeaten, winless or somewhere in between, it's a game that everyone can't wait to play.
That's the great thing about a rivalry game. It's one game that can erase the pain of a disappointing season or add to the magic of a successful one. There is always something to play for. Whether you're the favorite or the underdog, you will have no problem finding motivation.
The TIMES NEWS area won't be left out of the fun during "Rivalry Week." There isn't just one game for local fans either, there are three games – and all three have unique themes.
Palmerton and Northern Lehigh will meet in a battle of schools that are located just a few miles apart. The rivalry began as Palmerton vs. Slatington and has continued through three different leagues (Lehigh Valley, Centennial and Colonial) and a name change by one of the schools.
The Palmerton vs. Slatington/No. Lehigh series began in 1935 and for a number of years was played on Thanksgiving Day. Palmerton leads the series 41-33-2, but the Bulldogs have won the last two games and 10 of the last 13.
Marian and Tamaqua is the classic Catholic school vs. public school rivalry. Not only are the schools less than five miles apart, but the opposing players are neighbors as well as former elementary school classmates and little league teammates. The teams, who share membership in the Anthracite Football League, will both qualify for an Eastern Conference playoff berth with a win.
The series between the two schools began in 1982. They have met 26 times since then, playing every year except 1991, 2000 and 2001. Marian holds a 19-7 series lead.
The final local matchup between rivals on Friday night is Jim Thorpe at Lehighton. Unlike almost all of the other rivalry games throughout the district, this one matches teams from different leagues. The Anthracite Football League Olympians and the Mountain Valley Conference Indians will also be playing for some hardware as the winner gets the Route 209 trophy.
The Lehighton-Jim Thorpe rivalry has been a two-part series. The teams met every year between 1955-1964 with the Indians winning all 10 games. Following the 1964 contest, the teams went 37 years without playing until the rivalry resumed in 2002. Since then, Jim Thorpe has held the upper hand. The Olympians are 6-3 since the resumption and have won the last three games. The overall series stands at 13-6 in favor of Lehighton.
This final weekend of the season will feature some outstanding football. No matter where you live, you can probably catch a rivalry game just a short distance away. If you're a fan of high school football, do yourself a favor and find one to check out.