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Prep Football: 'Jacks, Vikings is a rivalry unmatched

Such is the nature of building a football power that the few losses tend to stick in fans' minds more indelibly than the many victories.

The Minnesota Vikings of four Super Bowl losses in the 1970s understand that cruel twist. The Dawson-Boyd and Minneota football programs are beginning to.

Before last year's Class A state championship season, Blackjacks fans could probably replay every down of three section championship game losses to Minneota and KMS. But ask them to recall a 48-0 midseason win over, say, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, and those same folks might be hard-pressed to tell you what year it happened.

And so here again sit the 9-1 Blackjacks, one of the state's winningest teams over the last six years, facing 9-1 Minneota in a section title game. Friday's Section 5A championship game at Southwest Minnesota State will mark the fourth straight year the teams have played each other with a spot in the state tournament on the line. Should Dawson-Boyd lose, that game will live on in much sharper detail than the nine wins before it.

Compounding the pressure is the fact that, after going 14-0 a year ago and finally beating Minneota 22-6 for the section championship, the Blackjacks' lone setback this season came against - you guessed it - Minneota, by an 18-14 score on Sept. 21.

"It always seems to come down to this," said Blackjacks quarterback Joey Lee.

"It wouldn't feel like a section championship game without us two meeting," D-B head coach Cory Larson said.

How evenly matched are the two programs?

Since 2007, Dawson-Boyd has a 57-10 record. Half those losses have come against Minneota. The Blackjacks won the state tournament last year, lost to the Vikings in the section final two straight years before that, fell to KMS in the section semis in 2008 -- the year the Saints won the Class A championship -- and D-B was 10-1 in 2007, losing only to 12-1 KMS in the section final.

Since 2007, Minneota is 57-12. The Vikings lost in the Class A semifinals in 2010, went 14-0 and won the Class A title in 2009, lost to KMS is the section finals in 2008 and fell to the Saints in the section semifinals in 2007.

Each year, the margin separating the two teams is razor thin.

In 2010, before Minneota thumped the Blackjacks in the section final, D-B defeated the Vikings during the regular season. During its state championship season, the Vikings won both games against the Blackjacks, by nine points and seven points. In '08 and '07, the teams split regular season games, each team winning on the other's field.

So when the teams take the field in Marshall on Friday, it almost certainly will signal the start of another classic in a long line of them between the two Little Sioux Conference rivals. And the fans on the losing side just as certainly will leave three hours later with the longer memories.