By KEVIN HARRIS
JEFFERSONVILLE – When you think of the Jeffersonville-New Albany football rivalry, the No. 1 word that comes to mind is intensity.
But there is another word that best describes the gridiron version of the longtime Ohio River rivalry that might come as a shock to you – strange.
Yes, the all-time series record does appear normal – New Albany leads 50-38-5 – for a rivalry that began in 1904 and has had 93 meetings.
However, when you analyze the series, you discover how volatile of a roller-coaster ride the Jeff-New Albany series has been throughout its history.
From 1904-1971, the Bulldogs dominated the rivalry.
New Albany posted a 34-0-5 record over the Red Devils during that stretch. The Bulldogs held Jeff scoreless in 20 of those 39 matchups with two games ending in scoreless ties. New Albany recorded huge shutouts over the Devils in 1912 (91-0), 1924 (64-0) and 1929 (72-0).
Jeff only scored in double figures four times in the first 39 meetings with the first coming in 1963, 59 years after the series started.
But the Red Devils turned the tables in the rivalry in 1972 when they finally defeated New Albany 34-0. Bill Griffith, the Jeff head coach at the time, was carried off Buerk Field by his players in celebration of the historic victory.
From 1972-2001, the Devils were 30-5 against the Bulldogs during that stretch that sliced Jeff’s deficit in the all-time series to 39-30-5. The Red Devils won 12 in a row over New Albany in two different segments – 1972-83 and 1990-99 – during that 29-year stretch.
The Bulldogs reclaimed control of the series from 2002-10. During that sequence, New Albany took nine of 11 contests with the Dogs increasing their series advantage to 48-32-5.
But since 2011, Jeff has owned the Bulldogs by winning six of the last eight meetings. New Albany prevailed at Jeff last season 42-14.
Who knows how many weird twists and turns this rivalry will take in the future? But I can guarantee the ebb-and-flow nature of the series will continue to keep people talking about the Jeff-New Albany rivalry for years to come.
Onto this week’s picks:
Jeff (2-4, 2-2 Hoosier Hills Conference) at New Albany (3-3, 2-2), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The youthful Red Devils have some players who can make big plays and I expect them to be fired up to play their rivals. That should keep the game close for at least the first half.
But as this year’s version of the Jeff-New Albany rivalry goes on, the more experienced Bulldogs will take over with their powerful running game and wear down the Red Devils, who have given up more 200 rushing yards per game this season.
I’m taking the Bulldogs by two touchdowns.
Old Kev’s pick: New Albany 42, Jeff 28.
Mitchell (5-1) at Providence (3-3), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The Bluejackets have taken their share of punishment from the Pioneers over the years. But that changed a couple of years ago when Mitchell won at Providence 16-12. The Pioneers avenged the 2015 loss last season by winning at Mitchell 35-8.
The Bluejackets have shown the last two seasons that they have had enough of being the perennial whipping boys in Southern Indiana. But to me, the jury is still out whether Mitchell can defeat a really solid program. In other words, it will not be playing Crawford County or Rock Creek – the pair of opponents the Bluejackets have downed the last two weeks – on Friday night.
Providence extends its winning streak to four games by winning a close one.
Old Kev’s pick: Providence 24, Mitchell 21.
Class 4A No. 9 Silver Creek (6-0, 5-0 Mid-Southern Conference) at Class 3A No. 9 North Harrison (6-0, 6-0), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The Dragons want this game bad, especially after suffering a 14-13 overtime setback at home to the Cougars last year. In addition, first place in the Mid-Southern is on the line and both teams are ranked.
But sometimes a team can get too fired up and lose focus on what it needs to do to win. That is what I am concerned with Silver Creek. Plus, this is the first real test for the Dragons this season. On Friday, they will see how good of a team they really are and how they can handle playing a formidable squad on the road.
I expect a real physical contest with North Harrison coming out on top.
Old Kev’s pick: North Harrison 23, Silver Creek 19.
Class 5A No. 10 Bedford North Lawrence (5-1, 3-1 HHC) at Floyd Central (4-2, 3-1), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The Highlanders hit a huge pothole last week in losing at Hoosier Hills juggernaut Columbus East 55-7. But it is rare for a Brian Glesing-coached squad in Floyd to have two bad games in a row even though the Stars are having an awesome year.
Old Kev’s pick: Floyd Central 27, BNL 23.
Charlestown (2-4, 2-3 MSC) at Corydon Central (0-6, 0-5), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The Pirates win their second game in a row and build some more confidence against the lowly Panthers.
Old Kev’s pick: Charlestown 38, Corydon Central 14.
Class 3A No. 10 Brownstown Central (5-1, 4-1 MSC) at Clarksville (0-6, 0-5), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The Generals’ long losing streak lengthens against one of the Mid-Southern’s elite teams.
Old Kev’s pick: Brownstown Central 51, Clarksville 13.
Traders Point Christian (3-3) at Rock Creek (2-4), 7 p.m.
Old Kev says: The Lions earn second home victory of the season.
Old Kev’s pick: Rock Creek 24, Traders Point Christian 21.
OTHER SOUTHERN INDIANA PICKS
Columbus East 48, Madison 12
Seymour 37, Jennings County 26
Salem 33, Eastern 16
Scottsburg 29, Mt. Vernon (Posey) 27
Paoli 41, Crawford County 10
Springs Valley 28, Tecumseh 23
West Washington 31, Perry Central 17
South Decatur 27, Switzerland County 17
Milan 39, Oldenburg Academy 16
OLD KEV’S RECORD LAST WEEK: 15-2.
OLD KEV’S SEASON RECORD: 65-17.