The football teams at Floyd T. Binns and Culpeper Middle schools are used to meeting each other on the gridiron with county bragging rights at stake.
However, the formation of a new conference that includes both schools has added another layer to the rivalry.
The Battlefield Middle School Athletic Conference, or BMSAC, came to fruition when the athletic directors at a handful of local middle schools agreed that there needed to be something more for their student-athletes to play for.
“Obviously [the kids] enjoy playing the sport, but we wanted to give them something more to play for than just pride,” Binns A.D. Mike McCombs said. “The formation of the BMSAC does exactly that.”
The BMSAC is comprised of eight member schools, which are split up into two divisions. Binns, Culpeper, Louisa and Prospect Heights form the West division, while Caroline, King George, Locust Grove and Walker-Grant make up the East.
The conference will also include boys and girls basketball starting this winter.
Teams’ conference records are based solely on their performance against division opponents. The football teams that finish with the best record in their respective divisions will advance to the BMSAC championship game, which will be held on Saturday, October 26. Tiebreakers will be determined by head-to-head results from the regular season.
King George (5-1 overall, 1-0 conference) is the front-runner in the BMSAC East, though the Foxes have games with division opponents Walker-Grant and Caroline remaining on their schedule.
In the BMSAC West, Binns (6-0, 2-0) can clinch the division and home-field advantage in the title game with a victory over Culpeper (3-3, 0-1) tonight at 6 p.m. at Eastern View High School.
“It definitely adds another element [to the rivalry],” Binns head coach Uzziah Harris said.
Binns and Culpeper already played each other once this season, with Binns claiming a 24-14 nonconference win at Culpeper County High School on August 22. However, Harris said he believes it will be tougher for his Blackhawks to defeat the Cougars this time around.
“Any time you play a team more than once, it’s very difficult to beat them,” he said. “There’s a familiarity that exists from having played each other already, but also, [Culpeper] is a much-improved team that I believe learned from that loss.”
Cougars head coach Eric Dinkens agreed with Harris’ assessment that the conference title stakes have added fuel to the fire between the two rivals.
“It means more to the guys now that there’s a championship on the line,” he said.
Culpeper has a chance to win the West and advance to the championship game if it can defeat Binns tonight and Louisa next Thursday. That would give the Cougars a 2-1 conference mark, which would tie them with the Blackhawks for first place. They would then own the tiebreaker by virtue of a victory over Binns.
“Our players have worked hard all year long and bought in to what we ask of them, which is to play for one another,” Harris said. “To beat Culpeper again and get to the championship game, they’ll need to be as motivated and as hungry as ever.”
Dinkens said his team’s approach to tonight’s game is simple: just line up and play football.
“I’ve told the kids that we just need to go out and play the game,” he said. “Just go out and do your job, like you’ve been doing every week.”