COLUMBIA — A guitar riff blares out of Alumni Stadium's speakers at Hickman High School: "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses.
A whistle then penetrates the air. A yell comes from the middle of the practice field next to the stadium.
Hickman High School at Jefferson City High School
Where: Jefferson City
When: 7 p.m.
"C'mon now!" Hickman High School assistant football coach JD Franklin shouted. "We gotta ball game Friday!"
The game Franklin is referring to is perhaps the biggest game of the year for the Kewpies. And as Tuesday's practice went on, the intensity increased, even when the music faded.
The players were wearing shoulder pads and helmets as their only protective gear, but that didn't stop them from clashing into each other as they practiced for the game.
The opponent? Jefferson City High School — longtime rival and annual opponent since 1919.
"Jeff City is a game that goes down in the annals of history," Hickman High School football coach Arnel Monroe said. "The Jeff City game is about our community and their community."
The matchup is known to be the second longest running rivalry in the state of Missouri behind only the Kirkwood and Webster Groves rivalry that has been played since 1907.
The matchup has all the antics one would expect in a rivalry.
Monroe said he still remembers when he saw former Jefferson City High School football coach and Missouri sports legend Pete Adkins receive a toilet bowl with a Kewpie doll in the bottom of it for his birthday while Monroe was scouting Adkins' Jefferson City team years ago.
Monroe even gets emails and phone calls from alumni located anywhere from Tokyo to Paris wishing Monroe and the rest of the team luck. Monroe said he is also trying to get former players from the 1984 team — which shutout Jefferson City twice during the season — to come in and talk to current players.
"It's the tradition of Hickman," Monroe said. "It's what we are trying to get these young people, who are a little detached from some of the old school traditions, to buy into."
Monroe isn't the only one who knows the importance of this game.
Jefferson City High School football coach Ted LePage said the game is a "pure pride" game for the Jefferson City Jays.
"This is the biggest game of the year, and it's the game you circle on your calendar," LePage said.
The Kewpies lead the series 53-52-4, but the Jays will look to tie the series on Friday.
The Jays are preparing for every situation. In a big game such as this, LePage said the team must be prepared for anything and everything to happen.
Although he does talk about the rivalry's history with the team, he said the bottom line is that the team must be prepared for Friday.
As the rivalry is set to kick off its 95th year, one thing has stayed consistent through the decades for both teams.
"This is the rivalry," Monroe said. "This is THE rivalry."
Hickman plays at 7 p.m. Friday in Jefferson City.
Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.