The respect that Collegiate football coach Bill Messamore and Garden Plain coach Todd Puetz have dates back to 1995, when Messamore was Friends University's offensive coordinator and Puetz was a linebacker.
"I didn't really know a lot about him personally, but he worked hard," Messamore said. "He's grown into a very good coach and has one of the top programs in the state."
Garden Plain (8-1) travels to Collegiate today to face the undefeated Spartans in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
The coaches have stayed in touch some since 1995. In his first year at Collegiate, Messamore traveled to Garden Plain to watch Puetz conduct a practice. But much has changed.
Collegiate has become one of the state's top offensive teams. The Spartans average 46.4 points, mostly through the air.
The Spartans, though, have lost four straight first-round games.
"Garden Plain will be a challenge," Collegiate quarterback Blake Jablonski said. "But we know that we have to advance past the first round for people to give us respect."
Knowing that his team will be facing an offensive attack that it is not accustomed to, Puetz has been adapting his game plan for Collegiate for a couple of weeks.
"I'd be lying if I said we have only been preparing for them after this last game," Puetz said. "We knew it was likely that we would play them after we lost to Conway Springs."
Garden Plain also has a high-scoring offense. The Owls average 47 points and despite being a run-dominant offense, Garden Plain will have to be more balanced to be successful against the Spartans.
"We're definitely going to run the ball more than they are, but we will also have to throw it as well," Puetz said. "We have to turn limit turnovers and get first downs. We have to keep the ball out of their hands."