Sports Editor

Westmoore players may not know the exact history of the Moore War. Maybe they can't tell you how many times their school has won the game, or how many the Lions won in a row during their dominance under former coach Tom Noles.

"But I do know that our (current) guys know exactly how many times they've won," said Westmoore coach Mike Whaley.

That would be three.

No current Westmoore player has ever been defeated in the Moore War. Conversely, no current Lion has ever tasted victory.

And that's the way this series has gone. Not once has a team ever won just one in a row. Or two, for that matter. When one team reaches the top of the mountain, it tends to stay there for a while.

Westmoore won the first six games in this rivalry, then Moore won the next 11 (including playoff matches). The Jaguars are the current kings of the city, having won the last three wars.

Moore's last win was a 35-13 victory in 2001, when the current crop of seniors were in the eighth grade.

But Whaley said what's happened in the past, stays there. It's a new year and a new war.

"I know that winning three in a row doesn't hurt," Whaley said. "But I also know that every Moore War I've been in has been a dogfight right to the end. It won't be any different this year, whether we've won three in a row or lost three in a row."

On the Moore side, you would expect the Lions to look at this game a little differently, having lost the last three. But Moore coach Bill Bays is cautioning his troops on putting all their eggs in one basket.

"It's an important game. It's the first game of the season against your rivals," Bays said. "But it's not the most important game we'll play or hope to play.

"The goal is to still be standing in late November or early December. We're approaching it as an important game, but it's not our season. Every now and then, you'll find a team that makes one game their season and it ends up affecting how they perform the rest of the year. Our guys will be ready to play, but we're not making this an all-or-nothing situation."

As for this year's team, Westmoore is coming off an 8-4 season and a trip to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Jenks. They're also returning just three offensive starters and two defensive starters.

Westmoore will have new faces at all the skill positions, including quarterback, where junior Ryan Fightmaster will operate the Jags' run-based attack for the first time Friday.

But the Jaguars are also coming off a scrimmage where they scored six times on Jenks. They also scrimmaged Edmond Santa Fe.

"I saw both scrimmages and I thought they looked very good," Bays said. "Santa Fe was a semifinalist last year and I picked them to win our district. I thought Westmoore was every bit as good as Santa Fe. That in itself is enough. Then to see them go up there and do the things they did against Jenks, it was a little bit scary."

Moore has scrimmaged Putnam City and Mustang with mixed results. The Lions will also be young this year, with just three returning starters on offense and four on defense. They'll be looking to reverse the trend of the last two years, where they've finished 6-5 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Like Westmoore, Moore will have a new face at quarterback, with either senior Michael Barnett or sophomore Mike Balak. Bays has yet to announce a starter.

But Moore returns one of its key weapons in Diego Balderas, who gained almost 1,000 yards last year, while starting just half the season.

"He's a scary runner and he can go the distance at any time," Whaley said.

"I've watched their scrimmages and the thing about them is that they can get after you on defense. That's always been their trait. They're physical up front with (defensive tackle) John White, and (linebacker) Shantel Mackey is a heck of a player.

"They've always been a well-coached team. To coach Bays' credit, he kept all the assistants, so I know there isn't going to be a drop off.

"As always, it's going to be a great game. I know the Moore War usually takes about 48 minutes to decide and sometimes a little more than that."

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