CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Blue and red are the colors of choice this week across Chattanooga, but they won't be worn together.
Battle lines have been drawn once again across the Scenic City as Baylor and McCallie prepared to renew their rivalry in the Channel 3 Friday Night Football Game of the Week.
The series has been one of streaks recently, with the Red Raiders winning the past four meetings after snapping the Blue Tornado's run of eleven straight victories.
"We can become the first senior class to beat McCallie five times, so this is a chance to make history," said Baylor senior linebacker Colton Jumper, whose class earned that opportunity after beating McCallie in both the regular season and the playoffs in 2010.
However, McCallie hopes the return of a familiar face will turn that tide.
Ralph Potter is back on the Blue Tornado sidelines after a five-year stint at Brentwood Academy. Potter, who started his head coaching career at Baylor, went 9-2 against the Red Raiders as McCallie's coach from 1997-2006.
"I actually came to the game last year, and it was probably my favorite Baylor-McCallie game I've been to," joked Potter, who was still the head coach at Brentwood Academy last season. "I was just enjoying it, calm and relaxed. But now it's back to being one of those weeks that is stressful and nerve-racking because you're trying to get your team ready.
"It will feel really good on Saturday if you win, but really bad on Saturday if you lose."
The Blue Tornado (2-2, 1-1 in DII East/Middle) dropped its first two games in a difficult opening stretch against McMinn County and top-ranked Ensworth, but is back to .500 after its option offense got on track in big wins over Tyner at Father Ryan.
"We went into the season kind of nonchalantly, which is no way to start as a football team," said quarterback Nelson Johnston. "We didn't understand the toughness factor then, but we've changed that.
"If you come out and watch our practices now compared to the start of the season, we're flying around and popping each other in the mouth, then picking each other up and patting you on the back. That's what McCallie football should be."
Baylor is heading in the opposite direction. After starting 3-0, the Red Raiders (3-2, 1-2) have dropped back-to-back games to Montgomery Bell Academy and Ensworth. A loss to rival McCallie will mark the program's first three-game losing streak since 2008.
"We took a lot from those losses, especially in the second half at Ensworth," said Baylor head coach Phil Massey. "We came out in the second half there and played a lot better than we did in the first half, and that showed a lot of character.
"We've got a lot of young kids, and we were able to take away the importance of playing a full game. Hopefully we'll be able to build off that in a big game this week against McCallie."
Massey said both Nick Tiano and Michael O'Conner will continue to rotate at quarterback for the Red Raiders. He said the competition is making both better, and added he's not as worried about the quarterback as he is about Baylor's suddenly struggling ground game.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Finley Stadium. Paul Shahen and Jordan Tippit will be live on site to provide full coverage for Channel 3's award-winning Friday Night Football starting at 11:10 p.m. ET.
Tickets are available all week at the McCallie athletics office, and will go on sale at the Finley Stadium ticket office starting at 5 p.m. ET Friday night. The First Tennessee Pavilion also offers space for up to 2,000 tailgaters, so fans are welcome to arrive early and enjoy the festivities.
Channel 3 is also sponsoring a "Tackle Hunger" food drive to support the Chattanooga Area Food Bank at the game. Fans are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to the cause.
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