Top-ranked Tucker will host No. 9 Marist at Adams Stadium on Friday in their annual DeKalb County showdown. A share of the early lead in Region 6-AAAA will be on the line, but in reality there’s a lot more at stake. Here are five things to love about the Tucker-Marist rivalry:
1. It provides a region championship game atmosphere in early September. Tucker and Marist have been in the same region every year since 1996, and only once in that time has another team (Southwest DeKalb in 2009) won the region title. Both teams have games remaining against region contender Mays, and Marist must face Southwest DeKalb, but the odds are good (14 to 1, in this case) that the winner of Friday’s game will take the No. 1 seed.
2. It’s the state’s top rivalry between a public and a private school. Savannah-Benedictine has the history, and GAC-Buford had its moments in the early part of this century. But no game between a public and a private school currently compares with the appeal of this matchup, mainly because both teams are good every year. Marist (a private Catholic school) hasn’t had a losing season since 1982, and Tucker (a part of the DeKalb County School System) last had a losing season in 1991.
3. Marist coach Alan Chadwick. Chadwick is 291-51 (.851 winning percentage) in 27 seasons as the War Eagles’ head coach. His 291 wins are 13th all-time among Georgia coaches and fifth among active coaches, behind only Larry Campbell (Lincoln County), T McFerrin (Jefferson), Dwight Hochstetler (Bowdon) and Rodney Walker (Mary Persons).
4. Tucker coach Franklin Stephens. Stephens is in just his fifth season as a head coach after serving as defensive coordinator (and helping win a state championship) at Camden County. Stephens has a record of 50-6 at Tucker, and his .893 winning percentage is better than any coach among the top 50 in the state in all-time victories.
5. It could go either way. This isn’t one of those one-sided series where you feel like you know what will happen before the game is played. Tucker holds a 12-8 edge in the 20 meetings between the schools, but they have split the past four games, including Tucker’s 31-24 two-overtime victory last season. And no team has won more than four consecutive games in the series.
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