"When you start practice in August, this is what you're playing for. This is what you hope you're in position to accomplish," said head coach Jared Essler of his St. Michael-Albertville Knights. "Here we are."
Tonight, it's all on the line.
The last time? That was just a dress rehearsal.
Sure, conference championships are great, and no one in a blue and gold uniform will tell you differently. The Knights had Mississippi 8 Championship aspirations from Day One as much as the Rogers Royals did.
But Friday night, under the lights, again, in Rogers; this is what really matters, folks.
"We wanted another chance," said Dallas Freeman, all-conference wideout and stellar free safety for the Knights. "We did some things last time that we need to fix, and we think we can do that. It's going to be an amazing game."
It will be hard, no doubt, to live up to the contest back on Oct. 16. Three times, the Knights held 10-point leads. All to watch it vanish on a last-second field goal by the Royals' Isaac Aanerud.
But that was more than two weeks ago.
Since then, the Royals have put up 52 points on Elk River, a team it dropped a section playoff game to last season to end its year. The Knights, meanwhile, played its starters one half in a 42-14 drubbing of Buffalo, a game they led 42-0 at the intermission.
"You want to beat the best to get to state," Freeman said. "One more win."
The Knights and Royals square off at Rogers High School at 7 p.m. tonight under the lights. The game will be broadcast on 106.1 FM 'The Bob,' and via Minnesota Sports Broadcasting Network online.
The game, due to Minnesota State High School League rules, cannot be broadcast with video.