Holding down opposite ends of the Valley, Marion County and Bledsoe County share a Region but live in two different worlds completely.
Josh Owensby, head coach for the blue squad, has his team in a full-out blitz for the playoffs trying anything and everything to get back to the coveted eleventh game. And last season, he was just a score away from heading to the second round in a game his team lost by 15 late against Forrest, currently ranked No. 3 in the latest AP Poll.
The Bearded Wonder, Joey Mathis, continues to impress with his No. 2 ranked squad, sitting pretty in Jasper. They’ve proven themselves time and time again against the Region Elite, namely Tyner and Boyd-Buchanan. The AP voters seem to think they look Top-Two caliber as they continue to thrash opponents by double digits and more.
The differences are overwhelming, but Bledsoe County has an element up their sleeve that can’t be defined on paper: fight.
The Warriors from Pikeville are looking at opponents, not as another Friday but as the Friday, every Friday. Every region game they’ve played, outside of a Boyd-Buchanan shutout, has been close, averaging a 3.6 scoring margin across 3-2A opponents.
And Marion County is likely that last hope for a playoff berth. So the Warriors from the North look at Friday night as an utter and complete dogfight against another Valley opponent. Their last chance, so to speak.
Bledsoe County Warriors at Marion County Warriors
Bill Baxter Stadium, Jasper, Tennessee
Kickoff Time: 7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET
RIVALRY RECAP: LAST TEN MATCHUPS
Marion 58, Bledsoe 10; October 16, 2015
Marion 48, Bledsoe 14; August 29, 2014
Marion 28, Bledsoe 7; August 30, 2013
Marion 39, Bledsoe 38; August 24, 2012
Bledsoe 53, Marion 21; August 26, 2011
Bledsoe 47, Marion 22; August 27, 2010
Marion 21, Bledsoe 6; August 28, 2009
Marion 32, Bledsoe 6, October 17, 2008
Bledsoe 22, Marion 21; October 19, 2007
Bledsoe 30, Marion 8; October 13, 2006
PLACE YOUR BETS
DISCLAIMER: These are not actual spreads or odds, and cannot be used in kind of sports betting context.
The Spread: Bledsoe County (+20.5) at Marion County
Odds to Win: Marion County 6 to 5; Bledsoe County 5 to 1
Over/Under (Total Points): (36.5)
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
Bledsoe County will be looking to break a four-game losing streak against the Warriors, dating back to 2011
Marion County remains No. 2 in Class 2A
Bledsoe County comes off of a killer stretch consisting of Sequatchie County, Boyd-Buchanan, and Tyner
Bledsoe County will look to end Marion County’s impressive 20-game home winning streak, dating back to the last week of 2013
Marion County also holds a 10-game winning streak against 3-2A opponents
INSIDE THE FILM ROOM
The Warriors have their Wing-T offense running on all cylinders as we head into week nine. More balanced than ever, taking down then-No. 2 Boyd-Buchanan in dominating fashion, Marion County leaves no doubt that they’re destination is Cookeville. Plain and Simple. A dominating defense, that many said was overrated, is an accomplishment in itself, but holding their last three opponents to under 18 total points, including a goose egg against Boyd-Buchanan, screams Championship contender. With Jacob Saylors and Hunter McClain giving Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Sampson all the help he can handle, Bledsoe County should be afraid of an attack from all fronts.
The Warriors will look to come out in spread formations with pro tendencies. Chaise Sorrow has taken a slight step back after flourishing against early season matchups. In a game against Tyner, where he threw several picks, Sorrows and the Warriors still managed to lead at halftime and only lose by 4 against a highly underrated squad. Balancing out the attack is senior tailback Joseph Gore who couldn’t be stopped much as he continued to fight past Rams defenders. The Marion County defensive system is a completely different story, though.
KEY ON-THE-FIELD MATCHUPS
Joseph Gore vs. the Marion County Linebacker Corps.
Gore has been running wild in recent weeks, maintaining his workhorse status on the Warriors’ squad. However, with a stout linebacking group from Marion County, the Warriors could be challenged in the run game where they’ve made their living this season. Look for the Warriors to focus in on Gore specifically.
Joey Mathis vs. Josh Owensby
Both coaches have less than two years of head coaching experience in the Sequatchie Valley. Probably two of the better pure schematic-driven coaches, Owensby and Mathis will be playing a crucial chess match as Bledsoe County will have no trouble fighting opponents better than them on paper. Mathis, on the other hand, has his offense rolling on all cylinders in a game that could be labelled as trap, if the Purple Warriors aren’t careful.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bledsoe County Warriors
Chaise Sorrows (Senior Quarterback)
Joseph Gore (Senior Halfback/Cornerback)
Harley Smith (Junior Offensive Guard/Nose Guard)
Kevin Whitson (Junior Linebacker/Tight End)
Derrick Pursley (Senior Linebacker/Offensive Lineman)
Cole Angel (Defensive Tackle/Tight End)
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)