Rivalry week comes early

The 2006 season is only two weeks old and already some old and bitter rivals are getting ready for epic clashes. In the Middle East TN area, a 79 year old blood fued heats up. In Northern East TN a rivalry that dates back to 1916 is preparing for it's 96th kickoff!

Everyone on this end of the state and beyond knows how big the game between Maryville High School and Alcoa High School is. sometimes referred to as "The Battle of Pistol Creek", this rivalry is in it's 79th year.

Maryville leads the series 54-21-3, but that hardly matters. The blood fued pits the very best in 4A in the Red Rebels and the very best in 2A in the Alcoa Tornadoes in a local free for all to see who gets to brag for the whole next year.

The two schools have assured Blount County is the only county in the state to ever produce two back to back champions in the same 2 seasons. They even find enough humanity towards one another to share a championship parade the last two seasons.

This years match up got interesting early, as former Riverdale coaching great Gary Rankin made the move to Blount County to become the new Alcoa skipper. Rankin brings with him a resume that most college coaches can't eclipse and has helped more players win Mr. Football plaques than any other in Tennessee.

The rivalry already had another great head coach in George Quarles. Quarles and his Rebels have won the last 5 of 7 4A state championship games. Quarles holds a 92-7 record in his seven years with the Red Rebels....that's 1 loss per year for those who are keeping score.

Things got even more interesting this week, as 4 Maryville players were suspended from this years edition of the rivalry, for violating team rules. Three of the young men are starters and don't make Maryville's chances of continuing their winning streak vs. the Tornadoes any easier.

Both Teams return enough Division 1 college talent to fill the roster at any local university or college. You can bet the fur will fly and the electricity will be at high voltage Friday nite at Renfro Feild in Maryville. If you manage a seat, you'll get to see D1 talnet such as QB Brent Burnette and UT commitments TE Aaron Douglas and WR Tyler Maples from Maryville and Alcoa greats WR Kyrus Lanxter, RB Chris Shiverdecker, DE Rae Sykes and LB Bart Hicks.

If you wanna cop a spot, get their before the other 10,000 fans do!

A little lesser known, but eaqually intense rivalry is the "Battle of Bristol". Many know that the city of Bristol in North East TN is split in half. One half is in the state of Virginia, one half is in Tennessee.

When two traditonally tough teams live in such proximity and are fighting over the same turf, things can get ugly.

The Tennessee High Vikings have long been one of the best 4A teams in upper East Tennessee. Virginia High has been known to punch good teams in the mouth from both states.

Tennessee returns 8 starters on defense. They have high expectations to improve this year. Two year starter Tyler Stickley returns at linebacker and Elijah Bible and Will Scheuer will be there to assist him at the other linebacker positions.

The secondary will be more experienced with Jeff Baker (Jr.) Chris Moore (Sr) and Andrew Powers (Sr) returning. They will be heavily relied upon when Tennessee faces teams like South, Elizabethton, and DB. All of those teams have good quarterbacks and receivers.

Tennessee returns several starters on the offensive line which should open up more holes this year. Cory Strickland, Jeff Baker, and Johnathon Howard all return to the backfield.

Danny Thomas will be the starting QB. He looked good in the scrimmage against Powell Valley throwing several passes to about 5 or 6 different receivers. The go-to receiver at this point appears to be Marcus Canty, younger brother of Major Canty.

The Virginia High Bearcats return 7 starters on offense and defense. Zac Messer returns at quarterback. Allen Eccleston and former Viking player, Andre Ayala, return at the halfback position.

Almost all of the receivers/cornerbacks return for the Bearcats. This team will be quicker, but no as large as previous years.

Tennessee could win this edition of the series with a balanced offense, spreading the Bearcat defense out by throwing several passes and making sure to give the backs plenty of carries as well.

Both of these match ups will supply enough energy to power most of the eastern half of the state Friday night. Make sure you travel early for either game and be ready to see East TN football at its very finest!

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