It's a state quarterfinal matchup you could just see coming.

As soon as the UIL unveiled its biennial realignment with Stephenville moving from 4A to 3A, people have been talking about the possibility.

Since Big Spring - the only school larger than Wylie in District 4-3A - began fading in league play, people were looking at it as a probability.

And as Wylie continued to pour it on against Andrews last week just hours after Stephenville blasted Kennedale, everyone knew it was a certainty.

No. 3 Stephenville (10-1) and No. 2 Wylie (12-0) are finally going to meet in a playoff game, as the longtime powers are set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a 3A Division I quarterfinal at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls.

"I think this is a match-up a lot of people have wanted to see for a long time," said fifth-year Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie, who is 12-4 in the playoffs and 48-17 overall. "The makeup of the programs and the schools is very similar, and the demographics of the community are similar; same type kids, coached by staffs with great continuity both in personnel and what they do.

"We've really been about the same size for what seems like forever," he added. "We've been right at the very bottom size-wise in 4A, and they've been at the very top of 3A. Now, we're finally in there together."

The teams gave football fans a taste of a Wylie-Stephenville match-up the last two years, but those were in week one, just the second game for both teams. Both head coaches know everything will be different this time around.

"When you play that early in the season, you're really just looking to improve, and nobody is showing their full deck," Gillespie explained. "But nobody will be holding back this time, because everything is on the line."

Sandifer knows his Bulldogs have to be much better than when they lost 42-14 at home to the Yellow Jackets last fall. Stephenville won 33-20 on its home turf in 2010.

"We weren't very competitive in those non-district games; we played a little better in Stephenville (in 2010), but last year it wasn't much of a contest," Sandifer said. "But in those early season games, I don't think either team had really found their identity yet. Now, both teams have had good seasons, both have lofty goals and expectations and this is obviously the next step toward meeting those."

Both programs have achieved lofty goals plenty of times before.

Stephenville won four 4A championships under Art Briles in the 1990s and has been to the playoffs 23 of the last 24 years. It's the 14th time in that stretch the Yellow Jackets have reached round three of the post season, where they are a perfect 13-0.

But Wylie has its own strong tradition to hang its hat on. The Bulldogs won the 3A Division I championship in 2004 and reached the state final in 2000 and 2009, all under Sandifer, who has 235 career wins.

The veteran Wylie coach knows from experience what this type of match-up brings to the respective communities.

"There's a lot of excitement for the communities,schools and both teams," said Sandifer. "When you looked at Division I in our region, it looked like Stephenville and Wylie were dominant compared to the other teams, and here we are."

They've been dominant for some time, and one will maintain its course to win a state championship.

"You're going to see two programs full of kids who take a lot of pride in carrying on the winning tradition that was laid out before them," said Gillespie. "It's going to be a war, and only one team can survive."

That survivor will face Gainesville or Kilgore in Mansfield next Friday night.

"They just get bigger and bigger," Gillespie said. "This one's huge, and if you can get through this one, the next one's bigger than that. That's the way the playoffs are, especially at this time of the year when everyone's a contender."