There were to be no black roses or dead-flower bouquets sent last night or today by enterprising boosters, and no one expects to get spit on tonight when Bledsoe County plays football at Sequatchie County.
"The boosters used to do some wild things, like sending a dozen black roses to their own team and try to make them think the other team had done it," said Sequatchie coach Chad Barger, a former Bledsoe player.
"It's not as bad as it used to be, although I remember playing at the old Sequatchie field where you had to run through a tunnel to get out on the field. [Visiting players] always seemed to get spit on or worse as they came out of that tunnel. But it's still a big rivalry and a big money game. There are people in both communities that might come to one game all year -- this one."
Barger's Indians host his alma mater tonight in a game that besides rivalry rights could decide a playoff spot and quite possibly a first-round home playoff game. TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress is expected to be present.
"It's a game where players from both schools play their best and their hardest," Warriors coach Jason Reel said.
According to Barger, last year's first-round postseason game against Bledsoe netted $16,000. Half of that went to the TSSAA.
"It was the third-highest gross receipts game of the first round. At least that's what the TSSAA told me," Barger said.
Bledsoe is District 7-AA's defending champion, but Sequatchie is unbeaten in league play and hopeful of setting up a district championship shootout when it hosts Signal Mountain on Oct. 28. Bledsoe lost to Signal already.
In a pregame ceremony tonight, Sequatchie will present a football carved from a block of cedar commemorating the rivalry and Bledsoe's loss of player Kainen Boring, who died on Sept. 16. Among carvings on the ball is Boring's No. 7.
Hopeful on Holmes
Clarencio Holmes missed last week's game with an injury, and that created havoc in Hixson's backfield and linebacker corps.
"Our second-string running back was already out with a concussion, and our third-string guy that was starting hurt his knee on the opening kickoff," Wildcats coach Houston White said.
Hixson moved quarterback Justin Mathieson to running back during part of the game but wound up moving him back to quarterback and going with a down-the-list reserve in the second half.
White said he expected Holmes back this week. He is averaging 178 yards per game and 8.7 yards per carry.
Morrison season over
Ooltewah left tackle Garrett Morrison is done for the year. The junior dislocated a knee in practice and wound up tearing his MCL, his ACL and cartilage.
According to Owls coach Shannon Williams, Morrison had surgery on Sept. 21 to repair the MCL and is expected to have surgery to fix the ACL in about six weeks.
"The doctor said the MCL surgery went better than expected and that the ACL should be routine," Williams said. "Still, he's facing a six- to nine-month recovery and we're just hoping to have him back next year. He's a good player."
Tigers lose Walters
Junior two-way tackle Brandon Walters is unlikely to return to Howard's sideline this year. The 6-7, 275-pound college prospect suffered a broken hand and had to have surgery. He had pins placed close to where his ring finger meets the hand at the knuckle.
"We thought we'd have him back but there was something about the way the bone was growing, I think, that made the doctor decide he needed to have the pins put in," Hustlin' Tigers coach Michael Calloway said.
A canned-food drive sponsored by the football team and Bench Mark Physical Therapy will take place at Red Bank High tonight. Items will be collected at the admission gates.
All donations will be forwarded to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, according to Lions coach Tim Daniels.
LFO enjoys streak end
Fourteen consecutive football losses will do a lot to a football program, nothing more noticeable than a loss of confidence. Well, confidence is high at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe after the Warriors broke their long losing streak with a 35-28 overtime win over North Murray last week.
The Warriors lost their first four games this season following last year's 0-10 campaign, but the last three of the losses all were within a touchdown.
"The biggest thing for me was that the kids saw their hard work could pay off," LFO coach Todd Windham said. "I mean, we had been so close several times this year -- double overtime against Model and very close against Heritage. When you struggle for so long, they needed to know that the hard work could help them break through. Now they may have that confidence to pull a game out when it's close."