KINGDOM CITY - For the North Callaway Thunderbirds, this rematch is not about revenge and has everything to do with self-preservation.
North Callaway (5-4) will get another crack at neighboring rival Montgomery County (8-1) when the sixth-seeded Thunderbirds return to the No. 3 Wildcats' home turf for tonight's Class 2, District 6 opener. Kickoff is at 7 in Montgomery City.
North Callaway arguably tumbled to the low point of its season after a 34-14 Eastern Missouri Conference loss at Montgomery County on Sept. 27. The setback left the Thunderbirds at 1-4 overall and desperately trying to get their season headed back in the right direction.
A three-game winning streak promptly reversed North Callaway's course and fortified the Thunderbirds' confidence, even though their sizzling stretch came to a halt last week in a 22-19 loss at Marionville.
Still, head coach Mike Emmons likes his squad's prospects tonight when it goes back to Montgomery County. The Wildcats are coming off their only loss of the season last week, a 20-0 setback at state-ranked South Callaway.
"There's not so much of a redemption (angle) with them," Emmons said Tuesday afternoon. "It's just that this is a new life and also it's do-or-die. We're looking at it more that way - you play your hardest and you play as long as you can, and hopefully you keep winning.
"We want to make sure whenever we finish, we don't have regrets. The kids are definitely thinking that way, they understand how it works and they're excited for the opportunity to play."