GAINESVILLE — Gainesville coach Keith Hall knows all about the rivalry.
The 20 mile stretch of Interstate 35 isn’t far enough for either Gainesville nor Sanger in the long standing rivalry.
“Any time you play somebody as long as our two teams have been playing, it’s always going to be a rivalry,” Hall said.
Gainesville and Sanger will renew their rivalry when they square off in a District 9-3A contest at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Leopard Stadium.
“There’s a long history between the two teams,” Hall said. “We know what is at stake.”
For the first time in years, Gainesville (7-0, 1-0) will have the upperhand heading into the showdown with the hated Indians.
The Leopards are off to an undefeated start and are fresh off of a 42-21 dismantling of Decatur last time out.
Sanger, meanwhile, remains winless seven games into the season and was destroyed by Frisco Lone Star 51-21 last time out -- the Indians had a bye last week.
“Sanger is getting better,” Hall said. “You can see their progression in watching film. I think the biggest challenge right now for us is to show up every week to play football, not worry about someone’s record.”
Gainesville has rode an explosive offense and a stingy defense to its spotless start to the season. Quarterback Denzel Johnson, wide receiver David Moore as well as running backs Adam Berryman, Danny Nipp and Johnathan Mendez have provided big plays for the speedy Leopards.
“Friday night we showed what we can be when we are healthy,” Hall said. “We were able to spread the ball around and get a lot of people involved. We showed that we have big play capabilties.”
Sanger has been a mixed bag on offense, still searching for an identity past the midway point of the season.
“They started in the Wing-T and now they are going to the gun and throwing the football,” Hall said. “They are having a tough year but they are well coached and will be ready to play.”
Sanger running back Derek Shelby is the main running threat for the Indians with 262 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Quarterback Wyatt Broxson has 220 yards passing and another 106 on the ground.
Even with their best start to the season since 2005, the Leopards are still looking to improve.
“The big thing is that we work hard on the passing game,” Hall said. “We want to mix that with what we did last week (a steady running game).
“I want to play as balanced as possible and play with a lot of enthusiasm. One thing I’ve always harped on is starting on a fast note. I tell the kids that it’s like running a race - you want to get out as quick as possible and execute the rest of the way.”
Friday’s game will mark the fifth away game of the season as the Leopards will head into the bye next week. Gainesville has rolled through its road opponents thus far, outscoring them 135-42. Hall said the Leopards are used to the bus ride by now.
“It kind of feels like we are on the road all the time,” Hall joked.