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Seven-Mile War will rage again on Friday

SPOTLIGHT PHOTOS: JAKE MCNEAL AND JOHN BREWINGTON - Senior running back Myles Terry (4), senior tight end Colton Beisley (23) and the Class 5A top-ranked Lions will host their old rivals and Class No. 18 Indians in the Seven-Mile War on Friday in St. Helens.It's the game we've all been waiting for, the crown jewel of Columbia County sports.

The Indians and Lions face off for supremacy in the first Seven-Mile War in five years, this time at 7 p.m. on Friday at Doc Ackerson Stadium at St. Helens High School.

Lions libero Mercedes Massey, as part of her senior project, will host a tailgate party with pre-game and halftime shows by Scappoose band Hit Machine from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Scappoose and St. Helens played yearly from 1922 to 1957 but not again until 1979, when the Lions came down from the Class AAA Coast Valley League to the Class AA Cowapa League. St. Helens rose to the Three Rivers League in 2000 and joined the Northwest Oregon Conference in 2006.

The Indians scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat St. Helens 43-25 in Scappoose the last time the Highway 30 forces met in 2011.

It's time to show the kids what they're missing.

"It's always a big game," Tribe football coach Sean McNabb said. "I can remember being a freshman in the fall of '79: St. Helens had just moved down to the Cowapa, and me and a friend found a way to the game in St. Helens. I had been to many high school games but had never seen anything like it. What an atmosphere! Back in those days, the St. Helens and Scappoose students didn't like each other much. The other memorable time for me was as the head coach 20 years later in the fall of '99: The game was in St. Helens and the atmosphere was just as I remembered."

Indians principal Jim Jones recalls — hesitantly, of course — the spirited vandalism that used to take place.

"It's almost bigger for the older crowd," Scappoose athletic director Robert Medley said. "It's the two biggest cities in Columbia County, and a ton of fans can be there every year."

The Class 4A state runner-up Indians (1-0 overall) are fresh off of a 40-24 defeat of New Westminster (British Columbia). The Lions (1-0), back from the first round of Class 5A state for the first time since 2011, steamrolled Hood River Valley 47-13 on the road.

"The rivalry between St. Helens and Scappoose is always strong and it's going to be cool to see the stadium packed and loaded," St. Helens senior quarterback/safety Tucker Mosley said. "Overall, I think I'm just going to come out like any other game with the same focus needed to win."

Jerad Toman, Jimmy Jones and Nate Rieman lead the Tribe into battle against Levi Norton, Myles Terry, Dylan Brady and the Lions.

No Indian or Lion was older than a sixth- or seventh-grader when last the War was fought.

"It's an old rivalry," said Brady, a senior running back who broke loose for three touchdowns in Hood River. "There should be a lot of people, and it should be a lot of fun."