TRURO - Call it a second provincial final, if you will.
The Turkey Bowl means just as much as the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football League final to the Cobequid Cougars.
"This is bigger than any other game for me," senior Cougars free safety Nick Simpson said. "It's my senior year and I just really want to beat Citadel."
The Cougars and Citadel Phoenix square off in their annual Thanksgiving weekend classic Sunday at 1 p.m. at James Macpherson Stadium.
"It's a huge game. Really big," Simpson, a 17-year-old Truro resident. "We haven't been able to beat Citadel in a while and we're really looking to do that, especially with the new stadium and all."
It'll be a tall order for the Cougars. Cobequid has never won the contest, alternated each year between the two schools, in the five years they've taken part. The Orange Crush has been staggeringly outscored 223-31 over that span by the four-time defending provincial champions.
Originally the game was an annual showcase between the rival Queen Elizabeth Lions and St. Patrick's Irish. However, Cobequid became the opposition once the two schools combined to form Citadel in 2007.
The last time the Cougars topped the Phoenix was the 2007 provincial final, which saw Cobequid thrash Citadel 50-2 at Huskies Stadium in Halifax.
Both teams are off to their typical starts to the season. Citadel is 3-0 to lead the standings while the Cougars are 2-0. Cobequid's Week 2 game against the Sir John A. Macdonald Flames was cancelled due to flooding at James Macpherson Stadium.
"We can't make the little mistakes," Simpson said. "We've been making a lot of little mistakes, fumbling the ball, not keeping the opposition contained, so we need to brush up on the little things and it'll help us a lot."
Cutting back on mistakes means everything when facing a team that can exploit weakness like the Phoenix.
But Simpson feels this is the best group of Cougars since he joined the program in 2010 and is confident his team can get it done.
"We have a great secondary and our defense line is fantastic," he said. "We've got great receivers and a great running game."
But win or lose, Cobequid will come out of the contest knowing where they stand in the grand scheme of things, something the Cougars are eager to find out after wins against Prince Andrew and Sackville. Cobequid was also thrashed 52-7 by the C.P. Allen Cheetahs in a preseason game.
"We haven't really had a huge test and that preseason game wasn't us, that's not the team we are now so this game will be the test," Simpson said.