Kevin Banks knows what tonight means.
Banks might be in his first season as Lincoln County’s football coach, but as an assistant for 19 seasons, he’s familiar with the stakes of Lincoln County vs. Washington-Wilkes.
Still, this is the first time the result counts on his career record. It’s also Banks’ first home game and Lincoln County’s first home contest since renaming the stadium after the recently retired coach Larry Campbell.
“When I get on the field, it’ll feel a little different,” Banks said. “Like last week, it won’t be a different experience until I walk out onto the field.”
The two rivals meet again at 7:30 tonight in Lincolnton. Though the series is just 36-34-6 in favor of Lincoln County, the history has been littered with long runs. The Tigers won 10 of the first 12 meetings from 1922 to 1948 (other two games were ties). Lincoln County later won 10 in a row from 1976 to 1985.
Recent history has also been familiar to dominant stretches.
After Washington-Wilkes won four in a row (1999-2002), the Red Devils won nine of the next 10.
“Athletes come in cycles. That’s got a lot to do with it,” Tigers coach Robby Robinson said about the reason for long streaks. “But with a heated rivalry like this, it’s a coin toss.”
However, if Washington-Wilkes wins tonight, the Tigers would have just their second three-game series win streak since 1955, when they finished a five-game run.
The small turnaround in the past few years coincided with Robinson’s arrival. After the Tigers lost by 16 in Robinson’s first year, they have won by a combined 49-20 the last two years.
Though the 2014 Tiger-Red Devils meeting is once again a nonregion game, it could give both coaches an idea of the quality of their teams.
“It’s a measuring stick,” Banks said. “If you can play with Washington-Wilkes, you can play with everybody on your schedule.”