Stephens County and Gainesville are only about 40 miles apart, and one would think the two teams would make for a natural rivalry. Recent history hasn’t worked out that way.
Up until 1988, it seemed they played each other all the time. Nine times between 1971 and 1988, they played twice in the same season, but they’ve squared off just once since then.
According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website, Gainesville and Stephens played each other twice in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1988. Gainesville won the second meeting in six of those.
This year’s Region 8-AAA finalists last played in the state playoffs in 2002, when Gainesville took a 22-9 win on its way to the state semifinals.
“We’ve scrimmaged them a couple of times, but we were in different regions, and when we got in the same region this time, the only way were going to play was in this play-in game,” said Gainesville coach Bruce Miller.