The two teams met 28 times between 1938 and 1969, including twice in 1952, but are almost a generation removed from their last meeting in 1997.
Belton and Killeen don’t need history to restore the once-storied rivalry, though.
It’s all about the future; both teams are in the middle of the mix for one of four District 8-5A playoff berths with three games left.
The Kangaroos host the Tigers at Hood Stadium Complex on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the first meeting between the old rivals in 15 years.
“It is in Killeen. It’s on Fort Hood, but it is in Killeen. ... Anywhere you go, to win, you’ve got to play well,” said Killeen coach Sam Jones of hosting a game away from Killeen High School.
“My whole concern is limiting our mistakes and just play hard.”
Killeen holds the all-time series lead 20-10 against the Tigers, including the last three (1969, 1996, 1997). But what happened in 1997 is hardly a concern for the players in the 2012 rendition of the rivalry.
Belton (5-2, 2-2) resurrected its season last week by upsetting nemesis Copperas Cove 35-31, while the Kangaroos (5-2, 2-2) suffered just their second loss of the year, 44-17, to No. 11 Waco Midway.
“I know they’re a good football team and I’ve been saying all along, any given week, I think anybody can beat anybody, it just depends on which team makes the fewest mistakes, that’s the team that’s probably going to win,” Jones said.
After a district-opening, 7-0 loss to Harker Heights and a crushing 50-44 loss to rival Temple two weeks ago, Belton’s playoff chances were in a world of hurt. But, the Tigers outscored Cove 21-7 in the third quarter en route to their first win over the Central Texas power since 2003.
“It gets us back in the discussion about the playoffs again, so obviously it was big. And, it’s big for us to beat them. That’s the one team that’s kind of haunted us for the last five years,” said Belton coach Rodney Southern.