The “King of the Mountain” rivalry is set for its 13th chapter Friday as the Cumberland County Jets (0-7) travel across Crossville to Stone Memorial High School (1-6).
“It’s really special,” said CCHS head coach Eric Belew. “This type of rivalry I’ve never really been a part of. I don’t know of many places in the country that have two schools in the same region that are within 4 miles of each other.”
This season’s contest has monumental playoff implications for the Region 3-4A foes; win, and you’re in.
“For our seniors, it’s down to almost single-digit practices,” said SMHS head coach Derik Samber.
“Winning Friday night buys them another week of football and gets us into the playoffs. We’ve seen that anything can happen when you get there.”
Belew and the Jets aren’t emphasizing the playoff implications to their players.
“We don’t like to focus on anything that’s a month away,” said Belew. “We focus on the now and what we’re doing in the moment. We haven’t brought that up.”
Stone Memorial leads the all-time series 10-2, including a 55-10 victory at CCHS a season ago. Cumberland County’s last victory came in 2010.
“We know that Stone is going to be ready to play,” Belew said. They’ve got a lot of confidence going into this game when you look at the record. They feel like they’re the better team, and we understand that. We’re going to wear that as a chip on our shoulder, and we’re going to try and turn that into a positive.”
They’re big and physical up front,” said Samber on Cumberland County. “They look good on film. They’ve been competitive this year. Coach Belew seems to be doing a good job, and they seem to be buying in.”
The formula for a Stone Memorial win comes down to limiting mistakes. Quarterback Bryant Carter, running back Zach Street and the Panther receiver corps will need a strong performance.
“Limiting mistakes, which is something we did more against Macon County,” said Samber.
“Offensively, we’re still looking for playmakers. We’ve got to quit beating ourselves.
For Cumberland County, a good defensive performance is vital.
“We have to pursue. They spread out and run some spread stuff,” said Belew. “We’ve got to fly to the football and be able to make open field tackles.
“Offensively, we’ve got to establish the line of scrimmage, and make more plays. We’ve got to take ownership and stick to our fundamentals.”
The Jet offense will run through senior quarterback Trevor Parsons and skill players Treven McGhee, Jacob Grenga and Brandon Dalton.
There will be no lack of motivation from either side Friday.
“When it comes to motivation, there’s not much that we have to do as a coaching staff,” Belew said. “They’re pretty motivated. A lot of these guys are friends and know each other, and have played against each other for a decade.”
“We tell our kids no matter who we’re playing to worry about us,” said Samber. “We’ve got to take care of us. You can’t ignore the fact that it’s a region game and essentially a playoff game.
Cumberland County at Stone Memorial is set to kick off at 7 p.m.