It feels like these last few weeks have been building to this Friday’s Division 1-3A showdown between Amory and Nettleton.

While last season’s matchup between these two was also highly anticipated, I don’t think you can top the hype that this year’s should be built up to.

Each program is off to somewhat of a historically great start. First Amory was 3-0 for the first time since 1999 before taking its first loss to New Albany, and now Nettleton is 5-0 for the first time since appearing in the state championship game in 2006.

Booneville is also going to be in the mix for the top spots in Division 1-3A (I don’t know if you could ask me to predict how those standings are going to shake out), but the winner of this game should definitely have a home playoff game and could potentially be your No. 1 seed.

On paper and with the eye test, the two teams feel pretty similar – both the Panthers and the Tigers have rolled on offense for much of the season, averaging 35 and 41 points a game respectively.

It’s a matchup with two senior quarterbacks who are both having stellar seasons in Amory’s Hunter Jones and Nettleton’s Davis Oswalt.

They are both the kind of athletes that seem to excel at whatever they are doing, and I have been watching both of them to just that for years, whether it’s been on the football gridiron or a baseball field. Seeing them square off on Friday night and figuring out who is going to lead their team to a win is going to be pretty exciting.

They both have dynamic playmakers to get the ball to – Jay Hampton and Braxton Griffin for Amory and freshman Anterion Venson and sophomore Zavian Dilworth for Nettleton.

It’s one of those games where if we voted for which team had the edge in certain positions or areas, it would probably come out fairly even between the two, and that’s what makes this the game of the season (so far at least) in my opinion.

With one of those games on the schedule, it’s too bad we can’t be at maximum capacity yet, but if I were any of you Amory or Nettleton folks, I wouldn’t let those vouchers for Friday night go to waste.

There’s no doubt that those two are the cream of the crop when it comes to our six teams this season, but we are also starting to see some of our other teams improve and mature as the year goes on.

One of those – Aberdeen – broke a long losing streak this past Thursday, and it felt like a completely different Bulldogs team than the one that I watched in the A-Game, especially on offense.

Aberdeen has had some pretty bright moments on defense since the beginning of the season, but the last two weeks, they are starting to see that offense come around. Something they had been lacking was the confidence that getting a win brings, so it’s going to be interesting to see if they can carry the momentum from this one with them.

In that brutal Division 2-1A, Hamilton and Smithville both had their hands full this past week but also started to show some improvement, especially on offense.

The Noles have cleaned up some turnovers and penalties and started to get their passing game working, and the Lions have relied on Rye Howard, who is really having some success on the ground.

With so many teams being young and the season being abbreviated, every little bit of progress shown is starting to be a stepping stone for these teams.

Melissa Meador is the Sports Editor of the Monroe Journal. Contact her at melissa.meador@journalinc.com or follow her on Twitter: @MelissaMeador14.

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