As we anticipate the twists and turns of the season ahead, us obsessives at The List always have a tendency to come back to talking about our favorite high school football rivalries.
We can never decide which one’s the greatest, but that’s sort of half the fun. Some of these have been going on for many decades. Others are a lot newer, but are already giving us all sorts of memories.
So we figured it’s a good time to look at the best the state has to offer, and hopefully we’ll leave the bad blood on the field in the process.
These East Cobb rivals have played 30 times, with Walton winning twice as many after taking seven of the past nine. But there’s a lot of intensity here among the Cobb kids, many of whom grew up playing together before heading to high schools fewer than 6 miles apart. The rivalry culminated in last year’s thrilling 30-24 Raider win in the state semis.
2012 game: at Lassiter, Oct. 5
9. Marist-St. Pius
This one would get a much higher spot if it wasn’t, ya know, over (at least temporarily). Even with the teams not playing this year, there’s still a good deal of passion in this rivalry between Catholic schools on the same side of town. Marist dominated the series for a couple of decades, but the Lions are happily holding onto a two-game winning streak in the series for the first time since the mid 1970s.
2012 game: Do not play
8. Thomas County Central-Thomasville
This rivalry has fallen on a bit of hard times lately, as TCC has grown into a Class AAAAA school, while Thomasville is left at the AA level, making this typically a bit of a mismatch. TCC has won 14 of the past 16 meetings, including a finals victory in 1993, but the Bulldogs still hold a 24-23-1 edge. And the little guys aren’t giving in. They still play every year.
2012 game: TCC 41, Thomasville 7
No, they’re not playing this year, but just dare us to leave these two off the list. They’ve played 97 times since 1908, and they’ve nearly split them all (Benedictine leads 46-45-6) despite the Cadets winning 13 of 15 since 1993. If for longevity alone, this one deserves a spot.
2012 game: Do not play
This one is enhanced by the schools being in the same region, county and pretty much always among the better teams in the state. It’s a pretty new rivalry, and they’ve split the six meetings. It may have hit its apex last year, when the Lions won an amazing 50-49 region-clinching game that had people hanging off trees outside Hallford Stadium to try to catch a glimpse of what was happening.
2012 game: at Hallford Stadium, Oct. 26
Ten years ago, it would have been tempting to make this one No. 1, though Parkview had just finished winning five in a row in the series. Of course, they were also beating basically everyone they played then, so you couldn’t really blame the Broncos too much. Now, it’s slid a bit, along with the two programs. But both are still respectable, and they remember their glory years well.
2012 game: at Parkview, Friday
4. Charlton County-Clinch County
These two have played at least once (occasionally twice) almost every year since 1962, with Charlton winning 14 of 17 to move ahead in the series 26-23-1. An intense, small region rivalry, they really do want to beat each other up. You know Clinch wants to start getting this one turn around this year.
2012 game: at Charlton County, Oct. 26
3. Lincoln County-Washington Wilkes
This rivalry dates back to the days of Lincoln County being Lincolnton High, with their first matchup being in 1958. Lincoln County has won 34 of the 56 games, but this has certainly been one of the most intense annual small-school games in the state. And they play every year, so make the trip sometime. Trust us.
2012 game: Washington-Wilkes 21, Lincoln County 6
2. Northside (WR)-Warner Robins
This one has been streaky, but you’ll find few rivals who want to beat each other more than these two. Warner Robins basically dominated the series for more than 30 years, winning 30 of 40 matchups. But Northside has turned the tide, taking 11 of 14 since 1998. Oh, and they share a home field. And it’s one of the state’s best too.
2012 game: at McConnell-Talbert Stadium, Nov. 2
Yeah, there was little doubt what was going in this spot. Since this series started in 1968, the teams have combined to win 16 state titles, and Valdosta gave its neighbor a nice program to emulate for many of those years. The Vikings have taken kindly to the lessons, winning 11 of the 15 matchups since 1997, though Valdosta still leads the series 34-16. Perhaps student hath become teacher in this one.
2012 game: at Valdosta, Oct. 12
So yes, those are the best. Well, at least according to our addled minds. Who did we forget? Which rivalry is your favorite? Which game do you make it a point to get to every year no matter what? Have you ever had a hot dog thrown at you at your rival’s stadium? Tell us all about it in the comments here or on Twitter at @ajcprepsports. And no flying hot dogs, please.