DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - One could say the Houston Academy-Providence rivalry is one of the best in the Circle City. That rivalry is reaching new heights this weekend as the two square off in the AHSAA Class 2A baseball playoffs.
The Raiders and the Eagles have met twice on the diamond this year with the Raiders sweeping the series (7-5, 18-0). However, Houston Academy is not overlooking its opponent.
"We just got to take care of business," said Houston Academy senior Brady Johnson. "Nothing is guaranteed. They always play us a really good series no matter the record on either side."
Providence is used to the underdog role. The Eagles were underdogs to No. 4 G.W. Long last week and Providence took care of business defeating the Rebels in back-to-back games.
The Eagles are hoping to carry that momentum into the showdown with the Raiders.
"It gave us probably the most momentum we've ever had going into a game like this," said Providence senior Jared Ray. "That was one of the best wins I've been a part of here."
These two seniors know the importance of this rivalry and want nothing more than to eliminate the other.
"We got one of the biggest senior classes to ever come through H.A.," Johnson said. "It would be a big deal for us to send them home in the second round."
"With the way we felt going into G.W. Long is the way we feel going into this game," Ray said. "Doing it to them in the football season and doing it to them in baseball would be the best thing I could ever think of."
The coaches understand how big the rivalry is but are focusing on the bigger picture.
"We're just trying to relax the kids and get them prepared and just focus on what we do," said Providence head coach Casey Smith. "We're not trying to really think about our opponent. We try to worry about the things that we can control."
"It's not that we're just playing our rival," said Houston Academy head coach Tony Kirkland. "We're trying to beat out whoever we're playing. So, we just want to move on to the next round if we can."
It all goes down beginning Friday at Northcutt Field. Game one begins at 4:30 p.m. with game two to follow. A winner take all game three will be Saturday at noon if necessary.