Tennessee-Georgia rivalry renews in All-Star Football Classic - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee-Georgia rivalry renews in All-Star Football Classic

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RINGGOLD, Ga. (WRCB) -- Former Hixson coach Houston White and Ringgold coach Robert Akins won't need to give any inspirational locker room speeches before leading their teams onto the field Saturday night.

The border between Georgia and Tennessee provides all the motivation their players need.

Emotions are sure to run high once again in the ninth annual Stump on Sports Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic, which will kick at 7:30 p.m. ET at Ringgold High's newly rebuilt, state-of-the-art artificial turf stadium.

"You're born with it," Rome linebacker Stephon Mosley said of the hatred each team shares for its rival. "If you're born in Georgia you automatically hate Tennessee just like they hate us.

Added Bradley Central lineman Patrick Benson: "It burns me up, that color red. It just kills me."

That tension has led to plenty of chippiness throughout the nine-year-old event. Akins, who will lead Team Georgia this weekend, believes the level of athlete chosen for the game makes such aggressive play unavoidable.

"These kids are experiencing what they're going to experience when they get to college because everyone's an all-star there," Akins said. "They want to make sure they represent themselves well, so kids take this game seriously because of that pride."

White's in an interesting spot.

The veteran coach stepped down from his post at Hixson earlier this year and has since taken an assistant coaching position at Lakeview Fort-Oglethorpe High in Georgia. This week, though, he's back on the Volunteer state as Team Tennessee's head coach.

"There's serious bragging rights in this game because it's so local," White said. "If you get a North-South or an East-West game, the kids don't really play against each other or know each other so there's not really a debate about who's better.

"But if it's North Georgia against Chattanooga football, there's always going to be a debate about where the better teams are and who the better players are because everyone knows each other."

Georgia won those bragging rights a year ago with a 31-21 win at Baylor, but it was the Peach State's first victory in four years.

Tennessee leads the overall series 5-3, including three straight wins by a combined score of 89-14 between 2008 and 2010.

"It's time to go bust some heads and get another win for Georgia," Mosley said. "It's time we get a streak rolling like Tennessee used to have against us."

While a win is the ultimate goal, the experience is still meaningful without one. Especially for players who won't be playing at high-level programs on the next level, or who won't be playing in college at all.

"It means a lot to get to put on the high school jersey and helmet and play under those lights one more time," said Soddy-Daisy lineman Jake Ables. "Most of us are going to college next year, but many will be playing on Saturday afternoons. Some schools may never play under the lights again.

"I'm excited to just turn on the lights Saturday and play it in the high school pads. It's going to fell good to do it one last time."

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