As some locals might recall, the Warriors and Pirates brought two state titles to a single county back in 1994.
2016 could be a repeat of that same scenario.
The Warriors came into the season with back-to-back title appearances and no 1st-place hardware to show for it. The Pirates haven’t made it past the State Quarterfinals since 2013, which was the year after Vic Grider retired from the program. South Pittsburg and Marion County have had a unique path to their current situation, and although the Warriors have had a longer hiatus since their last championship, both are still very much in the hunt for a State Title
Holding the No. 1 Ranking in Class 2A, the Warriors are favored with the talent they return from last year, even under a new head coach in Joey Mathis. South Pittsburg also??? fell into the top ten in Class 1A with a No. 8 ranking. The matchup is arguably the best lower class matchup in the state of Tennessee, not only this week but for the first half of the season.
Outside of a loss to No. 5 in Class 3A, Sequatchie County, for South Pittsburg, both teams have wiped to floor with every opponent they’ve faced. Marion County has a tougher stretch down the line, but this could potentially be the only loss between the two squads combined if seasons go as planned. With a win, South Pittsburg has a mind-boggling chance to run the table from week two until Cookeville. The Warriors could potentially go undefeated, with some luck in region play, if they can pick up a win inside Beene Stadium.
PLACE YOUR BETS
DISCLAIMER: These are not actual spreads or odds, and cannot be used in kind of sports betting context.
The Spread: Marion County (-6.5) vs. South Pittsburg
Odds to Win: Marion County 3 to 1; South Pittsburg 5 to 1
Over/Under (Total Points): (57 Points)
Breaking Down the Bets: ‘The Spread’ is based on who is favored in the matchup and by how many points. ‘Odds to Win’ are the odds for a certain team to win that game and is not related to the odds of ‘The Spread.’ The ‘Over/Under’ is how many points both teams are expected to combine for, unrelated to ‘The Spread’ or “Odds to Win.’ These betting lines are simply to display what Vegas would perceive the matchup at and cannot be used in any sports betting enterprise.
QUICK HIT STORYLINES
The Historic Rivalry is looking for first close game since 2005’s 13-12 showdown
South Pittsburg will try to break a two game losing streak against the Warriors
Vic Grider will try to pick up his first win against Marion County since 2012
Both teams have outscored opponents 200-49 over five combined games
INSIDE THE FILM ROOM
Vic Grider and Joey MAthis are definitely not shy about their rushing games. Either team can burn you, not through the air, but on the ground with explosive rock pounding and outside juking. South Pittsburg has shown, though, that they can throw the ball more than the Warriors have, including a ton of passing yards against both Bledsoe County and Sequatchie County. Jacob Saylors, for the Warriors, has proven effective in both facets of the game, doing everything short of throwing the pass. Isaiah Sampson has proven a threat with his Peyton Manning-esce preparation. The Pirates rushing defense wasn’t as effective on the inside, but for Marion County, they have the ability to adapt quickly to the speed of the Warriors with their own quickness.
The Wing-T is a staple for both teams, so defensively, there shouldn’t be much that either team can’t handle. That beings said, this game has the potential to be either a barn-burner or defensive stalemate, depending on what either coach puts preference on this week in practice. South Pittsburg don’t have to, but they might try some trick plays early to get ahead of the favored Warriors, but if it comes down to endurance, the Warriors just might take the cake in a close matchup. Cade Kennemore could be the key to South Pittsburg success if they can get him some yards on the outside and through the air early. Hogan Holland will have to make a lot of adjustments against a next level-type defense to keep his team ahead on the scoreboard and out on the field.
KEY ON-THE-FIELD MATCHUPS
Isaiah Sampson vs. The Pirate Secondary
The sophomore quarterback will need to show his passing worth with weapons such as Jacob Saylors on the outside. Not to say the Warriors rushing attack won’t be a factor, but with the Pirates also able to run at will, MArion County has to have an ace up their sleeve. The passing game will be crucial in a rivalry that’s rooted its existence in pounding the rock.
Alex Kirkendoll and Linebacker Corp vs. South Pitt’s Outside Rush
Outside linebacker and Mr. Football semifinalist Alex Kirkendoll, will likely be target number one for the Pirates, schematically. Vic Grider loves to run outside plays, and Kirkendoll will likely be the Warriors to stop it. It doesn’t completely take out the exterior run game, but it does give the Warriors a chance to account for other facets of the game. And when you don’t have to put a lot of stock in a certain part of the defense, it helps…a lot.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Marion County Warriors
Hunter McClain (Senior Linebacker/Running Back)
Alex Kirkendoll (Senior Tight End/Linebacker)
Eli Morrison (Senior Offensive Lineman)
Jacob Saylors (Junior Running Back/Defensive Back)
Kane Hale (Junior Wide Receiver/Free Safety)
South Pittsburg Pirates
Hogan Holland (Senior Quarterback)
Kyree Pryor (Senior Halfback/Defensive Back)
Cade Kennemore (Junior Wide Receiver/Defensive Back)
Joseph Lilly (Senior Halfback/Defensive Back)
Mitch Butner (Senior Lineman)