There's a rivalry brewing in Chautauqua County, and no it's not Dunkirk-Fredonia, Southwestern-Falconer or Westfield-Chautauqua Lake.
While those three matchups obviously mean a lot to the schools involved, arguably the most heated rivalry over the past eight months has been between Fredonia and Southwestern.
The CCAA Division 1 rivals met each other in the Section 6 playoffs in football, basketball and baseball during the 2011-2012 school year.
Although the rivalry Fredonia has with Dunkirk on the gridiron, hardwood and baseball diamond is something that will never truly be matched, the Hillbillies, over the course of the last few years, have begun to build a healthy rivalry with Southwestern, meeting the Trojans in the Section 6 football, basketball and baseball playoffs during the 2011-12 school year.
"I don't even look at Falconer as a rival anymore," Southwestern senior Jake Swan admitted. "That's what everyone builds Falconer up as, and that's a big game, but I don't think there's any bigger game than playing Fredonia. They bring their A-game regardless of what sport and they're tough every year. Going into every game I know it's going to be a battle."
Southwestern drew first blood on the gridiron.
In the Section 6 Class C semifinal game, the Trojans rallied from a 17-3 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the score, 24-all after regulation. Southwestern kicker Tanner Hoose nailed a 28-yard field goal in overtime to send the Trojans to victory.
"Dunkirk-Fredonia is definitely a rivalry, everyone knows that," Fredonia football coach Bob Ball stated. "But with Southwestern, it's such high-risk, high-reward ... I always know I'm going to have a better football team after we play them.
"Southwestern is fun because of the competition," Ball continued. "They make you cover all your weaknesses or they'll find it."
Swan forever etched himself into the Fredonia-Southwestern lore with a pair of heroic playoff performances.
He rushed for 112 yards on 12 carries and grabbed eight catches for another 38 yards - including a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jake Pilling - in Southwestern's football conquest and came through again on the basketball court.
With less than six seconds left in the Section 6 Class B-2 prequarterfinal game, Fredonia led 57-54. Swan took the inbounds pass, raced up the sideline, pulled up right in front of his teammates on the Southwestern bench and swished a three-pointer to tie the game at the buzzer. The Trojans went on to win in overtime, 71-67.
"I think a lot of it stems over from football," Fredonia basketball coach Greg Lauer explained. "We've been very competitive with them in football. I think it really has become a rivalry."
"Yeah it's definitely a rivalry," Fredonia junior Trent Thompson agreed. "We try to put the seasons apart. I have complete respect for those guys and it's nice to see them in all three sports."
The playoff game was higher stakes, but the two teams played an epic triple-overtime contest in the regular season, with Fredonia earning an 81-79 win.
Dylan Meyer dropped a game-high 35 points - 31 in the second half - to help the Hillbillies erase a 16-point halftime deficit.
Kyle Radack paced the Trojans with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 10 steals.
"What was really nice about this was that it was a classic Southwestern-Fredonia battle," Southwestern basketball coach Andy Krenzer said following the game. "In the first half, my team rose to the challenge and in the second (Fredonia coach Greg Lauer's) team stepped up. Both teams deserved to win, but that just couldn't happen. It was a great game between rivals."
The trifecta of playoff showdowns was completed Friday, when Fredonia knocked off Southwestern, 12-4, on the baseball diamond.
Fredonia jumped out to an 8-0 first-inning lead and Thompson pitched six strong innings to give the Hillbillies the victory in the Section 6 Class B-2 semifinal game.
"Obviously we see a lot of the guys in all three sports," Thompson added. "It's nice to get at least one."
"I actually watched a little bit of film from the football game and thought about what it would be like to beat Fredonia in (baseball)," Swan said following the loss. "We couldn't pull it out. They're a tough team and we're really happy to beat them two out of three sports."
The three aforementioned rivalries exist namely because of location, but what's building between Fredonia and Southwestern is something more, as the schools are some 30 miles apart.
"This type of rivalry takes place when programs are both doing well," Ball explained. "We've both done well and that's added to it. I don't look at it as an anger or hatred rivalry, it's more of a mutual respect with Southwestern."
After a year to remember, you can bet both the Hillbillies and Trojans will have each other circled on next year's schedule and that more chapters will surely be added to this exciting, growing rivalry.
Stefan Gestwicki is an OBSERVER Sports Reporter. Comments on this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.