It’s hard to think of either Aledo or Stephenville football without flashing to the other, though each fan base probably detests admitting it.Their rivalry is pure; both fan bases sincerely hate one another, the two programs have recently taken turns beating each other up, and they have won a combined four state titles in as many seasons. Now it’s time for another round as Aledo hosts Stephenville at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bearcat Stadium.“We have a lot of respect for each other, but we hate each other,” Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. “It’s two small towns, separated by about 60 miles who don’t really put a lot of numbers in D-I, but really know how to play football. It’s just a really fun game.”Though early, both programs look like state title contenders once again.Defending Class 3A Division I state champ Stephenville dropped to No. 2 in the AP state poll despite avenging last season’s loss to Monterrey Tech 17-16. Class 4A No. 2 Aledo flexed its muscles in an impressive 44-3 rout of perennial power Highland Park at the Tom Landry Classic in Allen.Stephenville currently has bragging rights after beating Aledo 41-28 last year in what was a coming out party for Jarrett Stidham, who caught 11 passes for 172 yards and a pair of scores. At 6-foot-3 with blazing speed, Stidham is a matchup nightmare, especially now that he’s slid under center.“Our defense better be focusing on Stidham,” Buchanan said. “This is only his second varsity start [at quarterback] and he has college offers from all over the country for a reason. He’s a tremendous athlete and we’re going to do our best to control him because you can’t stop him.”Aledo will counter with a host of skill players such as speedster athlete Ryan Newsome and bulldozer (6-2, 225 pounds) running back Daythan Davis, whose legend seems to grow with every carry.“I’m trying to get these kids to understand that if you lose this game they will have bragging rights over you forever,” Buchanan said. “This group of seniors is a good group. I think they understand that this will be like a playoff game.”Captain ColsonMost high school football coaches will admit an experienced quarterback helps them sleep better at night, at least a little bit.Hurst L.D. Bell coach Mark Smith admitted as much the other day when talking about senior signal caller and second-year starter Colson Romano.“His leadership is much more apparent this year than it was last year,” Smith said. “His teammates elected him captain and he’s taken that role very seriously and you can see that by his habits in practice, in the weight room, in the locker room and on the field.”Romano threw for 2,172 yards and 26 touchdowns to lead Bell to the playoffs last season, but threw 12 interceptions; something he plans on changing this season. When asked about being thought of as one of the top quarterbacks in the area and the added pressure the label brings, he deflected praise to his teammates, “I feel like we have maybe the best backfield in the state in Daniel Dorsett and Fua [Sapoi], all of our receivers are sure-handed and our offensive line is coming together. We also have a great defense. They take a lot of pressure off of me.”Private school game of the weekSouthwest Christian hosts Country Day at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium a week after both teams won their season openers.Southwest Christian edged Trinity Valley 15-14 behind Luke Thompson’s fourth-quarter, 11-yard touchdown run. Country Day, led by quarterback Mixson Staffell’s 200 passing yards and two touchdowns, rolled over Dallas Green Hill 33-14.Country Day has won three of the past four meetings, including 35-0 last season.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JohnsonJarret