TOM BEAN, Texas (KTEN) - Just over 5 miles and about 10 minutes separate the towns of Whitewright and Tom Bean. On Friday, these two schools will play for the first time since 2017 bringing back the "Battle of Highway 11."

"A lot of those guys go to church with each other and being communities so close, they've known one another," said Whitewright head coach Kevin Wiggins. "They've played each other in peewee sports in basketball and baseball and all that stuff. So, they're on first name basis with a lot of those guys."

"In the four years I've been here, we've never had them in our district this is the first year," said Tom Bean senior lineman Gerson Hernandez. "I'm ready to go at them and get another W."

Whitewright moved down to Conference 2A in the most recent UIL re-alignment, pairing these neighbors in the same district. 

Tom Bean comes in vastly improved under first-year head coach Steve Fex. After a winless season in 2021, Tom Bean is already out to a 2-4 start this season.

"Those kids are getting after it," said Fex. "I really like their grit, I really like their focus and commitment. We're learning the game of football everyday and getting better in that regard but it's so mental and they're passing that with flying colors."

On the other side, adversity has hit Whitewright after a 2-0 start. A slew of injuries have contributed to four straight losses for the Tigers. However, it has helped them with their depth getting experience.

"We're always helping each other out if someone messes up," said Whitewright senior Brett Waller. "Even if they're not even playing, they're still here helping each other."

Kickoff is set for 7:30 on Friday with both teams searching for their first district win.