Since playing each other for the first time ever in 2000, Sweetwater and Mid-land Greenwood have met on an almost annual basis.
In that time the Mustangs and Rangers have played each other 11 times, includ-ing three times in the play-offs, with Sweetwater hold-ing a 7-4 edge. In fact, the teams faced each other twice in the same season in 2002 and 2005, when they met during both the regular season and the playoffs.
But the rivalry has a new wrinkle this year.
When the teams collide on Friday at Mustang Bowl, they will be playing as dis-trict opponents for the first time thanks to UIL realign-ment earlier this year. And their 4-3A matchup could have major implications.
Sweetwater is 1-0 in district, 3-3 overall after beat-ing Snyder 34-27 in its ope-ner. Greenwood, despite an overall 4-2 mark, is 0-1 after starting district with a 20-13 loss to Monahans. So the Mustangs will be facing a Rangers team that has its back to the wall and can’t afford another defeat.
But Sweetwater, despite beating Snyder, may need a win just as badly.
After this week’s game, the Mustangs will face the hardest part of their district schedule as they go to Big Spring (0-1, 5-1) next week, then host Monahans (1-0, 3-3) before finishing the regular season on the road at district favorite and No. 2-ranked Wylie (1-0, 6-0), which has been dominant all season and handed previously-unbeaten Big Spring its first loss of the year with a 42-24 victory in its opener.
Coach Shane Mobley says it will be a playoff-type atmosphere Friday at the Bowl because of what’s in-volved. “It’s a tough district to play in,” he said. “Even if you go 2-0, it’s still gonna be tough depending on who you play. I don’t think anyone feels comfortable right now. This one is huge.
“It’s still early (in district) and there’s a lot of football still to be played. Even if we’re 2-0 after this week, we’re still looking at three big dogs.”
Greenwood, which was an area finalist in 2011, averages 39 points per game and its four wins have been by at least 35 points. The Rangers were up 13-0 against Mon-ahans early, but failed to score in the last three quar-ters. Greenwood still held a 13-7 lead, however, until Monahans rallied for 13 points in the fourth period.
The Loboes limited the Rangers to just 52 yards of offense and two first downs in the second half.
Sweetwater scored in all four quarters vs. Snyder, and needed all of its points to get the win as the Tigers twice tied the game after falling behind by two touch-downs. A Sweetwater win wasn’t secured until Snyder fumbled on the final play of the game, from Sweetwater’s 2-yard line, in one of the most entertaining games in the teams’ long rivalry. The win ended a two-game losing streak for Sweetwater, which had lost three straight to Snyder since winning 14-7 back in 2008.
The 34 points were a one-game high, barely exceeding the 33 points the Mustangs put up in defeating Brecken-ridge prior to consecutive losses to Wall and Brown-wood. Sweetwater built a 27-14 second-half lead on Snyder until the Tigers tied it at 27 with 6:57 left in the game. Snyder missed the extra point, however, and a chance for its first lead of the back-and-forth game.
Sweetwater’s last series ended with what proved to be the winning points with 3:04 left as the Mustangs’ Ryan Linebaugh scored on an 11-yard run.