Top Matchup: The state's oldest rivalry - Marion County vs. South Pittsburg

Marion County and South Pittsburg is a rivalry unlike any other. NewsChannel 9 takes a look inside. Photo: WTVC Sports.

NewsChannel 9's Top Matchup: Marion County vs, South Pittsburg should be a dandy.

The two have battled each other since 1924.

It's the state's oldest rivalry.

Only 11 miles separate the two small towns.

But the passion is huge.

They're in different divisions, but no one denies how big this game is.

Pirates coach Vic Grider said, "This game to me is what high school football is all about. It's the kind of game you want to play in as a player, it's the kind of game you want to coach in as a coach."

The Pirates won a thriller in the closing seconds last year.

Friday, they travel to Jasper and the raucous Marion County crowd.

Warriors head coach Joey Mathis noted, "It's a great high school atmosphere. You know I tell these kids all the time, they're so lucky to be able to play in this game, in front of the crowds and the fans that are passionate on both sides of the fence."

The Warriors are 2-1 and will lean on four year starter Jacob Saylors.

Expect the running back to get the ball a lot.

Isaiah Sampson will guide them at quarterback.

Both coaches want the passion to stay on the field. "We don't want the nastiness of it, but we do embrace the rivalry. And we understand what's at stake. We want to play hard for our community and this school and the program and they do too," Mathis said.

The Pirates will play two quarterbacks.

Coach Grider said Jaylyn Hubbard is a better scrambler and Brayden Sanders is a better passer.

Senior Sawyer Kelly rallies and motivates the team, while Garrett Raulston has been solid at fullback.

Grider wants his players to enjoy and remember this game. "What it means to the kids, we want them to take all of that in because these are the memories they will never forget."

Even though the game will have no bearing on district standings, Mathis said the energy and fire will be on the field Friday night. "They want to beat us as bad as we want to try to beat them and there's no two ways about it. After the game, like I said, we shake hands and it's the next game that's on the horizon."

Grider believes because this hometown game is bigger than others. "20, 30, 40 years from now when these guys get together and have class reunions or gather with their buddies, this sis the games they're going to remember and we want them to take all that stuff in."

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