The lights and the cameras will be on in Oneida Thursday night as the Indians host the Greenback Cherokees in an out-of-district rivalry.
For Greenback, Thursday will be the second game in a row they have faced a top five team in the state.
Greenback knocked off the previous No. 4 team in class 1A, Coalfield, taking the No. 4 spot for themselves. This week, the Cherokees meet the No. 5 team in class 2A.
Head coach Jason Hicks said the fourth quarters played by the Cherokees Friday were maybe the best in all his time at Greenback, which is certainly a positive heading into Thursday's game.
But the challenge of facing a strong team in back-to-back weeks is amplified by a short week and a long road trip.
Hicks said the Cherokees came in for some game plan installation Sunday and had to cancel a junior varsity game Monday to make sure there was time to get ready for the Indians.
"It's been a challenge, but the kids have done great, Hicks said Tuesday. "So far this has been the best day of practice this year. They're excited about it."
The biggest challenge comes with Hicks' counterpart, Tony Lambert.
"Tony's a great coach," Hicks said. "They're always one of, if not the most well coached football team we play."
Hicks said Oneida has some good athletes on offense that should present a challenge and said the Indians play with a passion similar to what he sees in his own team.
"Their kids are similar to ours," Hicks said. "They love Oneida just the same way our kids love Greenback and they love playing football for that school. It's going to be a lot of fun."
It's no doubt Lambert's team is well aware of what Greenback was able to do against a stout Coalfield team last week, thanks in large part to a stand-out performance from Hunter Cope.
Cope had a similar game in Greenback's win against Oneida in 2012, so the Cherokees can expect a game plan to take Cope out of the equation.
"Hunter's a great football player and we expect teams to try to take him away every game," Hicks said. "We hope that we have other players that can make plays, and we feel like we do. It's in the back of our mind every week, but you go out and play the game and if they take Hunter away hopefully we've got another kid who can make plays for us."
Because of changes to the districts and a shift in scheduling in the offseason, Greenback has to make the long trip to Oneida for a second consecutive season, rather than having a home game against the Indians this time around.
"The further you have to go the tougher it is," Hicks said. "We're going to try to get out of school a little bit early, we're going to feed the kids and ride up there. It's a great atmosphere up there. They have really nice facilities. Any time you go on a road trip it's tough."
Both teams will have added motivation to show up and play hard Thursday night as the game is scheduled to be televised on MyVLT2 as part of the "Rivalry Thursday" series.
Hicks said he really expects it to play as motivation for Oneida.
"It's going to be a challenge," he said. "I'm sure they'll be fired up and ready to play. It's their place and it's on TV."