The Brookville Bees are back where they expected to be in August, competing for another Division Three crown in December at Liberty University's Williams Stadium.
The opponent is James Monroe of Fredericksburg. The two schools have played against each other in three state title games dating back to 1996, and two since 2008. The frequency of the matchup, only confirms the strength of each program.
At this time a year ago, the Brookville Bees were celebrating the first undefeated state title season in program history.
"It was a dream come true because that was my first state championship I ever won. It was kind of unbelievable but we worked hard at what we did,” senior running back Hilson Atkins said.
Fast forward to 2012, and this year's edition of the Bees return to the championship game seeking back-to-back crowns. It's a familiar situation for Brookville, playing at Liberty. And a familiar opponent as well, James Monroe from Fredericksburg.
"It's kind of fun seeing them again. It's going to be a hard-fighting game,” Atkins said.
Brookville coach Jeff Woody said, "Tell you what, anytime James Monroe and Brookville play you know it's going to be a good football game. So you're going to get your money's worth."
That was certainly the case last year. Brookville jumped out to a 17-0 lead before James Monroe went ahead. The Bees needed a key fourth down conversion to set up the game-winning field goal in a 34-33 win.
"Some point in time, we're going to be down. But you've got to keep your head level. Some point in time, we're going to be way up. Got to keep your heads level. It's the same concept going into this week. We got to make sure we stay composed,” Woody said.
The series with the Yellow Jackets goes back much further of course. The two teams played for the state title in 2008, when Logan Thomas and the Bees lost a 50-46 shootout. And Jeff Woody lost as a player to James Monroe in the 1996 final, 7-0.
"It's meant to be. It is what it is. James Monroe is always going to put together a good football team. They're well-coached. They're always fast, they're always physical," Woody said.
Back to this season, the Brookville seniors are preparing for their final game with the Bees. And if they win, they would end their careers with 28 consecutive victories.
"It's really bittersweet right now. You don't want it to end, but you want it to end on a good note,” senior defensive lineman Kaleb Thompson said.
The Bees are focused on one goal. A repeat in the rematch game on Saturday.