Often, November is a month that many District 4 football fans start focusing their discussions on Southern Columbia and Mount Carmel.
It was that way last year when both captured district championships. It was that way in 2008 when they also pulled that double play and it was that way in 2002 when both romped to state championships.
Southern and Mount Carmel are easily the district's most decorated programs, combining to win 11 state titles.
Tonight, though, South Williamsport and Montoursville have a chance to end both those powerhouses seasons. Tonight, South and Montoursville have a chance to own the discussion.
South meets Southern for the District 4 Class A championship in Catawissa while Montoursville hosts Mount Carmel in a District 4 Class AA semifinal. They are both rematches of regular-season games. Southern downed South, 42-21 while Montoursville edged Mount Carmel in a 41-37 thriller. Those games are meaningless now.
Tonight is all that matters.
"It's going to take a full team effort, but I think we have a good shot," South all-time leading rusher Brandon Stonge said. "We're a lot better than what we were the first time and I think it's going to be a really good game."
"It should be a great one," Montoursville quarterback Aaron Cole said. "We knew we would see them again so it's going to be really fun playing them again. It should be a great game."
South and Montoursville both played great games last week. The Mounties physically manhandled favored Bloomsburg, 32-16 while Montoursville rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final 5 minutes, 33 seconds at Lewisburg, and won in dramatic fashion, 37-33. The Mounties completed a season sweep of Bloomsburg (8-3) while the Warriors exacted revenge after losing to Lewisburg (8-3) in the regular season and overcame a fourth-quarter deficit for a second time.
Separated by only a few miles, South and Montoursville have traveled similar paths to tonight's games. The Mounties were 2-8 in 2010 while Montoursville went 3-7. Both teams were among the area's youngest in 2010 but those young players kept fighting, kept believing and kept working and now have raised the bar.
South (10-1) won the NTL?small school title, its first outright league championship since 1999 and is in a district final while having 10 wins for the first time since 1997. This Mountie team has left a big mark on program history, resotring the luster to what was one of the state's best programs in the 1990s while capturing its community's imagination. Montoursville (8-3) won the program's first playoff game since 2008, has eight wins for the first time since that year and became the first team to beat Lewisburg in a home playoff game since the Dragons started an excellent five-year postseason run in 2008.
They have fought for the area spotlight all season, but South and Montoursville really are teammates tonight. Both communities are pulling for the other and hoping for a Lycoming County sweep. When County teams make playoff runs and have memorable seasons, many rivals hop on board and support them. It was evident looking at the support both received last Friday and Saturday that it is happening again.
"It's one of those things where you work and you have faith and you can make good things happen," South coach Chris Eiswerth said. "We're trying to show the area that South football is really important to the community and we had a great crowd."
They will tonight too. Southern handled South eight weeks ago, but the Mounties have come a long way since. All the focus last week was on how much Bloomsburg had improved since its season opener against South but so many overlooked South's progress as well. The Mounties have played their best football down the stretch and have been outstanding in their biggest games, walloping Sayre, Muncy and Bloomsburg by 64 combined points in games that decided the league title and who would play Southern in the district championship, respectively.
Entering tonight, many are talking about how far Mount Carmel has come since losing to Montoursville, 41-37 in Week 5. Specifically, they are talking about how terrific the defense has been down the stretch. Again, many of those same people are losing sight of how much progress Montoursville has made. The Warriors lost two straight following the Mount Carmel game but have won four straight since and made some critical adjustments while getting healthier.
Both South and Montoursville are right where they need to be. They are both where they want to be. Both programs feature rich traditions and face the two teams with the richest tonight.
It is Coal Country vs. Lycoming County. It is South and Montoursville's chance to write a new chapter in district history and possibly usher in a new era. This is as good as it gets.
"I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of people there," Montoursville fullback/linebacker Matt Krezmer said. "It's going to be a great environment and we just have to push through and do everything we can to win it."