APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — Appleton North's football program is — when considering other schools — still fairly new.
It was established in 1995.
Yet over its relatively short history, the Lightning have become arch-rivals with Kimberly's Papermakers.
When the Papermakers and the Lightning are scheduled to clash, their practices take on a different atmosphere.
"It's more like detailed and more like has to be perfect," Kimberly senior linebacker Ethan Doucette said.
"We've been a bit more excited and focused on this, because we're excited for this game," North senior offensive lineman Peyton Mattson said.
It's a meeting that both Kimberly and Appleton North circle on their calendars.
"It's always a close game," Mattson said. "It's always battling."
"It's our hardest game so far, and it's going to be definitely a good one," Doucette said. "One for the books."
Friday's matchup will be the 30th overall between the Papermakers and Lightning.
Historically, Kimberly has an 18-11 advantage over North, according to Papermakers athletic director Ryan McGinnis.
But the Lightning won the last meeting between the two during the 2021 playoffs.
Since 2006, all but one conference championship have been captured by either Kimberly or North, with the Papermakers winning most of them.
"Honestly, Kimberly has made us be better as a football squad," Appleton North offensive coordinator Curt Salm said. "They make us better because they're the top team in the state. To compete with them, we have to get better."
"Coach (Rob) Salm's run a really good program for a long time," Kimberly head coach Chad Michalkiewicz said. "And it's going to be a really cool high school atmosphere. And it should be a good football game."
And while both teams say they respect one another, one rival wants to be better than the other.
"It's all love," Doucette said. "But tomorrow (Friday), it's obviously game time, and we got to take care what's got to be done."
"I can be friends with them off the field," Mattson said. "But on the field, I'm going to try and win."
You can watch the Sports Showdown matchup between Kimberly and Appleton North on WACY TV32 at 7 p.m. Friday. We will have pregame coverage of the contest on NBC 26.