As long as they are in separate classifications, their days of meeting twice a year - in the regular season and again in the playoffs - are over.

No longer will they settle district championships, as they did seemingly each year from 2003-07. No longer will they play state playoff games with the winner instantly becoming the favorite to capture a state title, as they did each season from 2009-11.

But it's still Stephenville. And it's still Aledo. And sixth year Stephenville head coach Joe Gillespie still expects a war come 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bearcat Stadium.

The rivals are meeting for the eighth time in five years, this time with both ranked No. 2, Aledo in 4A and Stephenville in 3A. Stephenville won 41-28 at home last year, but last won at Aledo in 2007 when Gillespie was still the Yellow Jackets' linebackers coach.

Aledo won three straight championships in 4A Division II from 2009-11, eliminating Stephenville from the playoffs each time. The Jackets also won a 48-47 home thriller to open the 2011 season, but lost openers in Aledo in 2009 and 2010. Aledo has won six of the last eight meetings, and the powers have evenly split 14 meetings since 2002.

"I know Aledo almost as well as I know us, and I'm sure (Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan) would tell you the same thing the other way around," Gillespie said. "I know they are very well coached, they are extremely sound and their kids play hard. I like to think that's what people would tell you about Stephenville, too."

This time around it's Stephenville that's fresh off a state championship and Aledo seeking revenge.

"I know Coach Buc and his kids haven't forgotten last year," said Gillespie of the night his Jackets built a 35-14 lead and cruised past the Bearcats to touch off what is now a 14-game win streak. "They remember, and I'm sure they are eager to wipe that taste out of their mouths. I like playing Aledo once each year instead of twice, but because you only play once, the winner gets those bragging rights for a whole year and the loser has to live with it for the next year."

Aledo made quite the impression in its season opener, blowing away traditional power Highland Park 44-3 in the Tom Landry Classic at SMU Saturday.

"They are as good as the score indicates," Gillespie said. "People talk about maybe HP isn't as good this year, but I think a lot of that was Aledo making them look that way. HP is good year after year."

Gillespie says there isn't one area of Aledo's team that impresses him more than another.

"When you watch film the real question you ask yourself is 'Where are they weak?'" he said. "They're just solid all over the field. They're offensive line may be a little green, but they're huge and they did a great job against HP."

Aledo allowed just 38 rushing yards and 177 yards total against Highland Park, which is typically an offensive juggernaut. The Bearcats intercepted two passes and Zach Hyles was named defensive MVP with a sack and three tackles behind the line.

The offensive MVP in the Landry Classic was Daythan Davis, a 225-pound running back who converted to offense this season and rushed for 111 yards and three scores. They also picked up 74 yards rushing, 34 yards passing and a 14-yard catch from versatile quarterback and receiver Ryan Newsome, a move-in from L.D. Bell.

The Bearcats also picked up turnover-free play from junior quarterback Luke Bishop in his first start. The younger brother of three-time state champ Matt Bishop was 15-22 passing for 153 yards. He hit Taco Anderson eight times for 89 yards.

Aledo even appears to have solidified its kicking game that has cost the Bearcats in the past. Parker Shaunfield made three short field goals last week, and was 5-for-5 on extra points.

Gillespie said Aledo continues to be a barometer of where his own team is.

"Aledo, just like Stephenville, is a huge measuring stick for your program," Gillespie said. "You can play outstanding and beat a team like Aledo and it gives you momentum that could carry you a long way. But you can also lose to a team like Aledo, or a team like Stephenville, and learn a lot and get better because of it."

Gillespie expects Stephenville to be better Friday than the Jackets were in their 17-16 win over Prepa Tec Monterrey (Mex.) last week.

"We have to be, because that's the formula. You have to improve each week," he said. "Last year we were a completely different team game two than we were game one. The first game is where you learn the most about yourself, because you're finally doing everything full speed with no quick whistles or coaches on the field to correct things in real time.

"I know we learned a lot about our football team, and I know we've had a good week of practice correcting things we did wrong and continuing to improve on the things we did well. We will be a much better football team Friday. Will that be enough to beat Aledo? I guess we'll see Friday night."