For two communities separated by a six-mile stretch of La. Highways 42/43, Albany and Springfield didn’t need any additional layers to spark interest in the football rivalry between their high schools.
Ready or not, the annual series figures to be ratcheted up a notch Friday when Albany travels to Springfield at 7 p.m. to highlight lower classification action.
“It will be standing room only,” Springfield coach Ryan Serpas said. “The fence line will probably be 5, 6 deep. The bleachers will be packed.”
Rivalry aside, both are 2-0 for first the time in recent memory. In addition, the “The Battle of I-12” will again present the winner with a trophy and bragging rights for the next year.
“It’s what high school in south Louisiana’s all about,” Albany coach Blane Westmorland said. “Two small towns; people that go to church together; kids that played rec ball together. It’s just a fun time for both our programs and towns.”
Albany and Springfield are not considered to be at the center of the Livingston Parish football universe often. However, with all three of the parish’s Class 5A schools playing on the road in Week 3, Albany-Springfield will be the only game in town for the annual Week 3 showdown.
“It’s just a great atmosphere,” Westmorland said. “You mix in being 2-0, and you’re going to get more people in the stands.”
Said Serpas: “It doesn’t matter what the records are. It’s going to be a big game. The communities get out and support our football programs.”
Springfield had a four-game win streak snapped against Albany a year ago, losing 42-0. It was part of a 1-9 season that the Bulldogs have successfully put behind them by beating Ascension Christian (34-7) and Cohen (28-24) this year.
Quarterback Sawyer Blankenship leads the Class 2A Bulldogs’ triple-option attack with 35 carries for 170 yards and two TDs followed by R.J. Serpas (19-172, 2 TDs) and Colton Davis (10-117, 2 TDs).
“A lot of the success has come because of the kids buying into the program and doing the little things the right way,” said Serpas, now in his 10th season as coach. “I’m happy with where we’re at, but we’re trying to improve and continue to be successful.”
Class 3A Albany, a 9-2 team a year ago, has resumed its winning ways with victories over Varnado (25-16) and former district opponent, Independence (28-7).
Fullback Brad Lewis is the team’s rushing leader with 377 yards and two TDs while Kamryn Mayers, a 1,000-yard rusher the past two seasons, is next with 295 yards and two TDs.
“There’s a lot riding on the game,” Westmorland said. “You get bragging rights over your rival for a year. That’s always important.”