Hopewell and Lake Norman have met only twice on the field.
While the Titans won the first meeting in the Wildcats' infancy, Lake Norman dominated Hopewell 18-0 last year in the schools' first meeting as I-Meck conference foes.
Hopewell football coach Chris Rust remembers that night.
"They really took to us and physically beat us up," he said. "I know our players remember that game, and we'll definitely be ready this year."
This season, Hopewell and Lake Norman appear to be completely different teams.
The Titans (5-1) are off to one of their best starts in school history and hope to keep pace atop the I-Meck standings with Mallard Creek.
Meanwhile, Lake Norman (1-5) is hoping to get their first conference win by beating Hopewell for the second straight season. But they're also searching for answers as the young team rebuilds under first-year head coach Rob McNeely.
"I think at the halfway point of the season, we have the experience and talent to compete," he said. "We're getting better with every snap. Now, we have to prove it on the field."
The Hopewell football team hasn't looked this good since winning 10 of their first 11 games in 2007.
But unlike that year, this version of the Titans beat West Charlotte - for the first time in school history - two weeks ago.
Hopewell looks to keep their momentum going into the stretch run of I-Meck play.
The Titans' strength is their running game led by Dondre Lewis-Freeman and Denzel Heath. Hopewell can control the ball and the clock with both backs, but don't have to.
Senior quarterback Cole Blythe has looked better in recent weeks after making some shaky decisions early in the season. Senior Leroy Jackson is Blythe's top target in the passing game. Jackson has had three touchdown catches in the last three weeks.
While the Titan offense has been strong, averaging more than 30 points per game, the Hopewell defense has also played well, allowing just 12 points in their victories. Seniors Michael Russell and Anthony Bynum lead a veteran secondary that can change games with big-playmaking abilities. Meanwhile, the Titans' defensive lines, led by Tevin Stevenson, and Heath, who also plays linebacker, have also been standouts.
If Hopewell gets their running game going early, Lake Norman could be in trouble.
Lake Norman (1-5)
After finishing with their best record in school history at 8-4 in 2009, Lake Norman was forced to start over with only five returning starters and a new head coach.
So far, the Wildcats have showed it, struggling to compete in games they would have won the past two seasons. But Lake Norman (1-5) does have talent and appears to be getting better with experience.
Junior quarterback Will Scott has had good and bad moments, but has showed the ability to make plays.
As Scott improves, seniors Austin Eisenhofer (running back) and Zeke Clarke (wide receiver) get the ball more and have a bigger impact on the game, which should mean good news for the Wildcats.
The bad news is that Lake Norman has not shown a consistent ability to stop anyone on defense, yielding nearly 35 points per game.
The team's best player, middle linebacker Connor Donoghue, should return to the field this week and could have an impact on the struggling defense.
If Lake Norman can run the ball effectively, the Wildcats will have a chance to keep the game close. But for that to happen, Lake Norman's defense will have to keep their opponent's offense from taking over the game - something that they haven't shown so far this season.