Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series offering unique insight into the Stephenville-Aledo football rivalry. Parts 4-5 will be published in the Thursday-Friday editions of the Empire-Tribune.

Jake and Dorothy’s Restaurant is known for a lot of things.

Good food, pie, morning regulars who like their coffee hot and much more.

It’s also known for football - or at least as a great place to go if you want to talk some football.

The football fans at Jake and Dorothy’s have followed the Stephenville Yellow Jackets longer than most of the players - and some of the coaches, even - have been alive.

And when it comes to Friday’s game against defending 4A Division II champ Aledo, they all agree on a number of things:

1. Get there early

2. Good luck staying cool

3. Get ready for some great high school football.

“It should be another close game,” Jerry Don Slawson said. “It always is when we play Aledo.”

Slawson admits he didn’t give Aledo any respect in 2002 when the UIL moved the Bearcats from 3A to 4A and placed them in a district with Stephenville.

“They were just another team we had to beat,” Slawson said. “They were just moving up from 3A. We weren’t worried much about them back then.”

Oh, how times have changed.

The Jackets and Cats have met nine times since Aledo jumped to 4A. Stephenville holds a slight 5-4 advantage in the series, but Aledo has won the last three. None were bigger than last November’s overtime classic when the Bearcats prevailed in the area round of the playoffs on their way to winning state.

The average score of the nine games - Aledo 24.4, Stephenville 24.2 - shows just how close the teams have been.

“There are a lot of real good football programs in 4A,” said Slawson, who had sons playing for Stephenville in the program’s glory days of the 1990s. “We happen to be one of them, and so does Aledo.”

Dean Jones has also followed Yellow Jacket football for many years. He and Slawson both believe this won’t be the last time Aledo and Stephenville meet this year.

“It’s a very good possibility they will see each other again,” Jones said.

Slawson agrees.

“Let’s hope we do (see them again),” Slawson said. “If both teams stay healthy they could very well play again in the playoffs.”

Longtime fans like Slawson and Jones don’t believe Stephenville-Aledo has reached the magnitude of Stephenville-Brownwood, at least not yet.

“It’s a fairly young rivalry,” Jones said. “It’s not like Brownwood.”

“I don’t think it’s the same as the Brownwood rivalry yet. With Brownwood, you’re talking about 50 years or so,” Slawson said. “I guess if (SHS and AHS) keep it up, they’ll get there eventually.”

But younger fans, players and coaches know the Stephenville-Aledo rivalry has been bigger over the last decade, and it’s certainly the only rivalry on anyone’s mind this week.

Jones and Slawson both think Friday’s match-up shapes up to be a great football game.

“It should be interesting,” Jones said. “It could be another wild one.”

Slawson knows that’s true.

“It’s gonna be one heckuva ball game,” he said.