There is more riding on the outcome of tonight's Marion County football game at South Pittsburg than bragging rights in one of the state's oldest rivalries. A South Pittsburg win would be the 200th career coaching victory for Vic Grider, allowing him to join a small and prestigious group of Chattanooga-area coaches.
In his 20th season as the Pirates' head coach, Grider stands at 199-50 overall and has his team 3-0 so far this year and ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 1A. Whether it happens tonight or later this season, Grider will become only the eighth coach in the tri-state area with at least 200 wins.
The only other active coaches with that many are Ringgold's Robert Akins, who has a career record of 242-156 that includes stops at two other programs; Calhoun's Hal Lamb, who is 227-51 in 20 years with the Yellow Jackets; and Tyner's Wayne Turner, who in 27 years at Kirkman and Tyner has a 215-131 overall record.
Former coaches from the area with 200-plus wins include E.B. "Red" Etter (324-102-12 at Central and Baylor), Benny Monroe (259-65 at Cleveland, McMinn County and Ooltewah), Ken Colquette (257-94 at Bridgeport, Marion County, Vidalia, Grundy County and Sequatchie County) and Tom Weathers (248-131 at Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy and Dade County).
Grider, who has had 16 Mr. Football finalists and 56 all-state players and whose teams have played in five state finals, winning three, has guided the Pirates to victories over the rival Warriors each of the past two years and in 13 of the 19 meetings during his career.
He and his late father, Don (192 career wins with the Pirates), have combined for more wins than any father-son coaching tandem in state history.
Panthers still positive
Despite an 0-2 start and the prospect of playing state power Sandy Creek tonight, coach Cortney Braswell and his Ridgeland Panthers believe the tough start to the season will pay off in the end.
"We've played some really good football teams," said Braswell, whose team lost to defending Class AAA champion Calhoun before falling to top-five ranked Troup County. "The players are optimistic and our resolve is the same. Our whole focus these past two weeks (since the Troup loss) is go play well and see what happens."
According to Braswell, part of the Panthers' problems, in addition to the top competition, is a transition to new offensive and defensive schemes.
"Everybody wants to win, no doubt," said Braswell, who is starting eight new players on defense. "When you are changing schemes and trying to mold a team, it's tough. But we've got everything still in front of us we want to achieve, and the great thing is Friday will be the first time we've had the whole team available."
East Ridge to induct 10
There will be 10 new inductees into the East Ridge High School Hall of Fame this year. They include James Citty (class of 1963, football and track); Kenny Erb (1967, football, baseball, basketball); Larry Garner (1972, baseball); Debbie Wooten Giles (1971, basketball, volleyball); Tim James (1982, football, wrestling, track); Bob Lively (1961, basketball, baseball, track); Mark Lawrence (1988, basketball, baseball, football); Mark Mariakis (1980, football, basketball, baseball, track); the late Connie Maxwell (1973, basketball, volleyball); and Bobby Wade (1967, football, track).
The induction ceremony will be held on Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. in the school's Neely Gymnasium. The new members also will be introduced at halftime of the Pioneers' Sept. 28 game against Anderson County.