After years of terribly one-sided results, the Big Bone Game between Lincoln and San Jose might be entering new ground.
The 70th game in the series, which will be played Thursday at San Jose City College, matches teams looking to put the cherry on top of superb seasons.
San Jose is unbeaten and ended what is believed to be a 63-year drought without a league or division title. Lincoln also won a division title and has lost only once.
"What I can say is I do think this is the first time both teams won league and come in representing their leagues as league champions," San Jose coach Darrell Williams said.
But will the game be close? Lincoln has won the past 14 games in the series, and its recent triumphs have been anything but competitive.
The Lions outscored San Jose 116-7 in the past two games and 261-25 in the past five.
"Last year, I said we've got to get to a point where we can compete in the game," Williams said. "Before you can win a game, you've got to compete, and in the last several years we haven't competed. I'm hoping this year we represent ourselves well."
Both teams represented itself well this fall. Lincoln won the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa Division (the "B" division in the league's three-tier structure) and San Jose won the BVAL West Valley Division (the league's "C" division).
Asked about San Jose's turnaround, Lincoln coach Kevin Collins said, "They're real consistent with what they're doing. They're playing very good defense."
Given the teams Lincoln (8-1) beat -- and the scores by which it beat them -- it will still come in as the favorite. But San Jose (9-0) hopes the dramatic strides it made in Williams' second season will carry over to its biggest game of the year.
"We're going to go over there and give it our all," San Jose quarterback Gabriel Miranda said. "We're the underdogs, and that's what we want to be."
San Jose's improvement from two wins in 2011 to perfection could put more fans in the seats Thursday. As Miranda noted, alums who haven't been to the school in decades have stopped by this fall to watch the team.
"We had the stands halfway full at a practice," Miranda said. "That was pretty crazy. I don't know what high school has that?"
Imagine what those alums might do if San Jose reclaims the Big Bone?
Receiver Romie Rodriguez, whose dad won the trophy when he played for the Bulldogs in the 1980s, knows what a victory over Lincoln would mean.
"It would mean more than anything that I could accomplish right now," Rodriguez said.