K-State football fans have this coming weekend off.

Need a little fix? Here’s an idea: Go catch a high school game instead. As it happens, one of the best in the state will be taking place right here in River City.

Junction City, leading the league with an undefeated record, is coming over to Bishop Stadium in CiCo Park to take on Manhattan High. The Indians are 4-1, and with a win could put themselves in a strong position to win another league title. It’s a proud program with a long tradition of winning.

The rivalry between the two schools in football is the stuff of legend. Both have won state championships; both have produced big-time talent; both have long traditions of coaching excellence.

We have no idea how this one will turn out, but there’ll be passion and all-out effort on both sides. Last year, Manhattan came in undefeated and Junction was 3-2, but the Blue Jays gutted out a 9-7 win. Lew Lane, the legendary MHS coach, always said you could throw the records out when it came time for this game, and he’s still right. (His name is on the field now; this will be the first installment of the Junction City rivalry since he passed away last winter.)

The cool thing about high school football is that it’s pretty much the same thing it’s been for the past half-century. You walk into those stands at Bishop and it could be 1974 or 1985 or 2019. The high school kids down front now tend to stare at their phones more than they would have back then, and the hairstyles and clothes might be a little different, but otherwise it’s the same scene. The game on the field: Exactly the same.

Get some popcorn, probably sold to you by parents and kids working the concession stand to support the thespians or the debate team, or whatever. Listen to the marching band and watch the drill team. Root for the home team, or root for the visitors.

It’s refreshing somehow.

Kickoff is Friday at 7. See you there.

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