For the first time in 12 years, cross-county rivals Moorpark College and Ventura College will began the community college football season against each other Saturday.
So much is at stake, like county bragging rights, the series lead and a good start to the season.
It will be the first rivalry game in the new VC Sportsplex. The Citrus Cup rivalry is tied, 21-21, since 1968. A win would give the Pirates their first three-game winning streak over the Raiders since 1985, the year Moorpark won its first of 11 conference titles under Jim Bittner.
"Everyone is just too excited," said Ventura defensive tackle Taylor Ramsey last week. "I'm pumped. Ventura College on (Sept. 4) is going to be a madhouse."
And yet, for the coaches, rivalry has taken a backseat to the administrative minutia this week, when there is so much eligibility paperwork to be completed before the season kicks off.
"Is there a football game on Saturday?" joked Ventura's first-year coach Steve Mooshagian, four days before his debut on the sidelines.
For a student-athlete to gain eligibility, they must have a high school transcript on file. Transfers must have their college transcripts verified by tracer. It all must be documented on the California Community College Athletic Association's online system.
Every returner, who needed to complete 24 units with a 2.0 GPA in the offseason to maintain their eligibility, must have a student education plan on file with the counseling department. The whole team will attend a two-hour eligibility seminar.
"It's a very extensive process," said Ventura athletic director Will Cowen.
So this week, for the Pirates and Raiders, may be more about dotting the i's and crossing the t's than X's and O's
Moorpark coach Jim Bittner wrapped up practice last week by waving a folded sheet of paper, reminding those that still had outstanding forms.
"There's such a sense of urgency," said Mooshagian. "It always seems like you're waiting on those last-minute transcripts and tracers.
"I've been on top of them and on top of them, but sometimes you're at the mercy of other schools."
As a result, Mooshagian said, the Pirates' lineup may shift between the first two games, as a smattering of players become eligible.
"I've been telling these guys since June 21 that they have to have their transcripts in," said Mooshagian. "We may have three or four guys that won't play in Game 1 that will in Game 2."