The Warren Lumberjacks and Monticello Billies are no strangers to one another.

The Warren Lumberjacks and Monticello Billies are no strangers to one another.


"I’ve been very blessed here," said Warren head coach Bo Hembree. "This will be our 15th time playing them since I’ve been here."


The two teams, less than 20 miles apart, will meet Friday night with the winner taking away the 146-pound trophy in the game dubbed as the Saline River Shootout.


"It’s a big rivalry," Hembree said of the contest. "The towns get excited for it and the players get excited for it."


Monticello first-year head coach Marty Davis said he is fully aware of the history between the two teams.


"I was here at Monticello about 16 years before I left," Davis said. "I’ve been a part of us and Warren for about 20-plus years. I was here when coach Hembree first got the coaching job over there and witnessed the transition that program went through."


In the last 13 years, Warren has a dominate lead in the series with an 11-1-1 record against Monticello. The Billies forced a 6-6 tie in 2011 and defeated the Lumberjacks 62-32 in 2009.


"We’ve had some success against them," Hembree said. "It never really matters about the records. Both teams usually come out and play well and we don’t expect anything different Friday night."


"Our kids always get excited," Davis said of playing Warren. "They have had their way with us the past couple of years, but it’s always a big game."


Warren (5-2, 4-0 in 8-4A) will look to win its fifth straight game of the season with a victory on Friday night at Hyatt Field. The Lumberjacks have won their past four games by a total of 167-46 after beginning the year 1-2.


"We played two really good football teams," Hembree said of the slow start. "(Fort Smith Southside and Pulaski Academy) had a lot to do with it, but we’re starting to get our rhythm on offense. We’re playing better and we’re more balanced."


Senior Justin Gorman has been a major factor in the resurgence of the Warren offense. Gorman has thrown eight touchdowns in the past two games, including three in last week’s 42-14 win over DeWitt.


"Early, we struggled throwing the football some," Hembree said. "I think it was just a matter of him getting some confidence and now he has some confidence. We’re also helping him out, getting a lot of yards after the catch, which is always good."


On the other side, the Billies (2-5, 0-4) continue to search for their first conference win under Davis.


"Of course it’s tough being 2-5," Davis said. "I’ve told our kids that with everything they have done to this point, they don’t deserve 2-5. The fact is we get to line up on Friday and give ourselves a chance to make it 3-5."


Monticello has been in some close games this year, despite what the final scores have indicated.


Case in point, the Billies led at Crossett last week 7-0 at halftime before allowing the final 19 points of the ballgame while failing to score another point.


"After a while it starts to wear on you," Davis said of the team’s struggle in the second half. "We’re not overly athletic. I think the fact that the (past 8-4A opponents) are more athletic, stronger and faster, after a while, it starts to wear on you."


Although the Billies haven’t picked up their first conference win, Davis said the kids have not given up on the season.


"Our kids play hard," Davis said. "Even down two or three touchdowns, we play hard. Our mindset is to win our last three (games) and to go out on a winning note."


Monticello will continue to play the role of the underdog as they are hosting the top ranked team in 4A, according to Hootens.com. The Billies, meanwhile, are ranked 33rd.


"I think some teams don’t take us real serious until we line up and play them," said Davis. "Then they realize that ‘Hey, these guys aren’t as bad as we thought they were.’ But our kids continue to play really hard."


Davis said he knows it will be a tall task on Friday to come out with a victory, but said his kids are fired up about the opportunity to end the win streak for Warren.


"When they added that trophy, it just kind of raised the level of importance," he said. "The past three years, the trophy has been over in Bradley County, and now we have an opportunity to get it back here in Drew County.


"We’re excited about the opportunity to get a chance to get the trophy back over here."


Warren and Monticello will settle things once again on the field from Monticello with kickoff set for 7 p.m.