Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

This is what happened this week in Mr. Belcher's economic class at Deerfield-Windsor.

While giving his students an outline for the week, Belcher told his students: "On Wednesday, we're having a test. On Thursday we have computer lab. And on Friday, we have Sherwood.''

'Nuff said.

After a two-year absence, the rivalry between DWS and Sherwood Christian Academy is back and just about everyone who follows private-league football in Albany is talking about the game -- everyone but Sherwood, that is.

More on that in a minute.

"It's a good rivalry,'' said DWS football coach Allen Lowe, whose team meets their bitter rival the Eagles tonight at Deerfield in the biggest private school game this season. "And this year, it's not only a rivalry game, but it's a region game.''

It is arguably the biggest region game of the season because this season-opening contest for both teams might just decide who wins the Region 2-AAA championship.

It's Sherwood-Deerfield Week. That may mean different things to different people, but one thing is certain: This game will be like no other in the rich history of this rivalry.

If you follow high school football in this part of Georgia, then you know the two private schools that play the game in Albany have been on opposite ends for years.

To put it bluntly, Deerfield has simply owned Sherwood.

The Knights, who have played for the GISA Class AAA state title for the last two years, have a 13-1 record against cross-town Sherwood Christian, and the last time they played, DWS won the game going away, 50-12.

But that was two years ago, and wow, have things changed since then.

Sherwood used to come into this game using the old David and Goliath cliche. Guess what? Sherwood is no longer David. The Eagles are now Goliath, and instead of coming in looking for a rock in a slingshot to toss at mighty Deerfield, Sherwood is packing heat.

These guys are loaded.

When Reggie Mitchell left the job at Albany High last year he loaded up the bus and brought eight Indians starters with him to Sherwood in a move that crippled Albany High while making Sherwood an instant force. All those transfers had an immediate impact on the smaller private league. Sherwood went 9-3 last year -- the best record in the school's history.

And just like that, Sherwood became a GISA power in Class AA.

SCA had to move up in class this season and lands right smack dab in the same region with DWS, making Region 2-AAA arguably the best GISA bunch in the state. Mitchell is ready. He added more kids this year and has a team that could be favored to win the state title.

"It has become a reversal this year,'' said Davis Moore, who plays fullback and cornerback for Deerfield. "They've gotten a lot better since the last time we played them. It's our turn to be the underdog. They've got a real good team.''

It should make tonight's game an instant classic.

"It should be an emotional game,'' DWS quarterback Banks Kinslow said. "Both teams are going to be fighting to get the win.''

That's what rivalries are about: Emotion, energy and an electricity that is fueled by talk not only around the schools, but in the community.

There's a buzz about this game.

"A lot of people are talking about the game, and not just at school,'' said DWS nose guard Jordan Funderburk. "My dad's friend called me from Valdosta wanting to talk to me about the game. We were at dinner the other night and people wanted to talk to me about this game.''

Even Lowe has heard all about it from just about everyone. Lowe actually attends church at Sherwood Baptist, which owns the school.

"Sure, people at church have been coming up to me and asking about the game,'' Lowe said with a smile. "You know, they say things like: 'Are you going to be ready for Friday night?' "

However, while it seems everybody is talking about the game, Sherwood went mum this week.

When The Herald approached a couple of Sherwood players at practice Tuesday with the simple question: "How do you feel about playing Deerfield?''

The response was a cold, hard stare followed by the words: "No comment.''

The Herald continued:

"No, just your thoughts on the game, how do you feel about opening with Deerfield?''

Same stare, same words: "No comment. No comment."

The Herald: "You do know it's a rivalry, right?

"No comment.''

When Mitchell was asked about the game, he stuck to the same robotic script as his players: "No comment.''

Then he added this insight: "We play them one game at a time. It's one game on our schedule.''

Yes it is, one game -- one huge rivalry game.