Rivalries are one of the things that makes sports so great and that is the case anytime Ponte Vedra and Nease meet in any sport and they will do so once again in football this Friday at 7 p.m. at Nease.
The winner of the “Battle for the Bridge” will have bragging rights for the next year, something that Panther players and fans have enjoyed and will be looking to keep it going.
However, the Sharks will have something to say about that and have revenge on their mind after falling to the Sharks 14-7 last year to end an 11-year streak they had over the Panthers on the gridiron. The Panthers are now the ones looking to start a streak of their own.
The Sharks have had a more successful year to this point and come into the game with the better record sitting at 3-4, while the Panthers are 1-7.
Despite the year not going as the Panthers had hoped, a victory over the school down the road will be sure to turn any season around.
The game will feature interesting matchups across the board.
When the Panthers have the ball it will pit strength against strength as the Panthers have an array of offensive weapons and the Sharks have an attacking defense full of playmakers at each level.
The Panthers have leaned more on the ground game this year with a combination of speed and physicality with Samuel Milton and Cam Smith complimenting each other nicely.
Stopping the run has been something the Sharks have excelled at this season with Layne Swafford providing push up the middle along the defensive front and Trooper Price all over the place from his middle linebacker position.
If the Sharks can limit the Panthers’ rushing attack then they have to worry about Florida-commit Marcus Stokes, who can sling it around with the state’s best quarterbacks.
Watching the Panthers’ explosive and balanced offense against the ball-hawking Sharks defense will be worth the price of admission by itself, but then you have the wildcard of an improving Sharks offense against a Panther defense that has struggled this season.
That battle will likely go a long way in determining who wins the game.
Since the bye week earlier in the season, the Sharks have been progressing with each week that passes and with that has also come an added confidence in their ability.
For the Nease defense, opponents have been able to move the ball and score on quick big-play drives on several occasions.
Having their bye, the week before the game could be important if the Panthers were able to find some answers to their defensive woes.
Whether that is the case or not, the one thing that everyone can count on no matter who they root for is that it has all the makings of a close game that comes down to make plays and putting drives together in the fourth quarter.
That is the beauty of rivalries, where people often say the records can be thrown out beforehand.
That should be the case when these teams meet Friday night, because when bragging rights are on the line, anything can and most likely will happen.
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