VICTORVILLE The battle began on Wednesday even though the Barstow and Victor Valley football teams don't take the field until tonight.


Barstow senior Jorge Benavidez was late to practice Wednesday because he was busy washing green graffiti off of his car thanks to some old friends. Benavidez played for Victor Valley last year and tweeted that he was visiting his mom in Victorville. Some former teammates played the practical joke on him as retaliation after Benavidez wrote on the car windows of The Jackrabbits' Zeek Julien and Traevon Beddard.


"I just drew some axes and wrote 'Silly Rabbits' in burgundy and gold on their windows," Benavidez said. "I was asleep at my mom's and when I came out my car was all green."


The Aztecs and Jackrabbits will meet at Ray Moore Stadium in Victorville for the 87th installment of the Axe Game at 7 p.m. tonight. The two schools rivalry dates back to 1932 and every game has its own story and the players on both teams are doing their best to write their own chapters before the game even kicks off.


"I'll get them back on the field though," Benavidez said. "We're all friends still."


Benavidez isn't the only one playing tomorrow with a background with Barstow and Victor Valley. The Jackrabbits' leading receiver Isaiah Kepley has only played for Victor Valley, but he spent five years of his life living in Yermo and Barstow. He currently leads the Jackrabbits in receiving and scoring with 287 yards and 80 points.


Kepley's father, Denis, even played for the Aztecs from 1977 to 1979, but never played in an Axe Game. Victor Valley and Barstow were in different leagues and didn't face each other those seasons. Denis, like his son, was also a wide receiver.


Despite playing for and attending Barstow High School Denis said he stands firmly behind the Jackrabbits now.


"All of my kids have played for Victor (Valley)," Dennis said. "I'm 100 percent for my kids. It's all about Isaiah during that game."


Denis gave Isaiah his old Barstow letterman jacket at the start of the season this year, but Isaiah said he has no plans to wear it.


"Yeah, he gave me the jacket, but I just hung it up in the back of my closet," Isaiah said. "I'll probably never wear it."


Isaiah and Benavidez played side by side for Victor Valley last season. They both played wide receiver, cornerback and kicker. Today they will line up trying to defend and score on each other for the first time.


"We still have a really good relationship," Benavidez said. "We text, call and see each other still. We talked about the game already though. Once the ball kicks off we act like we don't know each other. We're not going to hurt each other or anything, but we're definitely not going to be soft on each other either. We both want to win the axe."


In another twist of fate Benavidez will be facing another Victor Valley player he's known for years his cousin Miguel Benavidez. Victor Valley coach Eric Perry said that a few injuries have moved Miguel up to a starting position, and Isaiah and him will be his bookend receivers.


"It'll be interesting because no matter where Jorge is he'll either be covering someone he's known for several years or someone he's known his entire life," Perry said.