Forest (Ocala) at Vanguard (Ocala)

Fox Sports Radio Gainesville and OcalaDate: Fri 10/28/2016, 7 p.m. (PREGAME COVERAGE)
Title: HS Football – Forest (Ocala) at Vanguard (Ocala)

Event Details: Join Marty Pallman (Play-by-play) and Billy Barnette of (Color) for the Class 6A-District 5 championship game and match-up of unbeaten rivals from Booster Stadium. The game will also air on Florida Sports Talk in Gainesville (FM-92.1 & AM-1230) and Ocala (FM-100.1 & AM-900).  Link to listen online is listed below.

Ocala Star-Banner preview by Richard Burton:

Probably the most anticipated games in series history, as it features the first-ever matchup of unbeatens. It is also the fourth time that we have a true district championship game between the rivals. The series is tied at 22-22-1.  Vanguard has won the last four but Forest won four of the previous five. If Vanguard wins, it would take the lead in the rivalry for the first time ever.

The Knights (7-0, 3-0) clinched a playoff spot with a win over Lake Weir, while Forest punched its ticket two weeks ago with their defeat of the Hurricanes. The Wildcats (6-0, 3-0) have surprised many with their first playoff season since 2011, but it will somehow have to figure a way to stop a VHS offense that ran roughshod over them in both spring and fall classics. Forest is having its best season since 2002, and is two wins away from its first unbeaten regular season since 1985. The Knights, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, entered the year with high hopes for postseason glory, so don’t expect them to look past their rival, even with all the fireworks from homecoming bursting in the air.

Both teams are already headed to the postseason and this is just the fourth time in the history of the series dating back to its origin in 1971 that the matchup is a true championship game. Granted, there have been years where one team could clinch with a win and others where a three-way tiebreaker could have been set up, but this one is one of the few meetings where both enter with a chance to win a championship.

Vanguard, back in the postseason for the third straight year under coach Edwin Farmer, is two wins away from its first undefeated regular season since 1996. The last two times that the Wildcats entered this game undefeated were in 2001-02, but both times they lost to the Knights.

Vanguard, meanwhile, has won two of the three games in the rivalry that could be deemed outright championship games.

In 1981, the Knights won 24-17 on the famous blocked field goal return by Frank Rich and also took the 1991 contest when the two teams were in a three-team district with Gainesville. The following season Forest got revenge with a win over Daunte Culpepper and Vanguard, as Wildcat coach Jim Simmons earned his 100th career win at the school.

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