SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. (WRCB) -- There's some new juice in the Tennessee's oldest high school football rivalry, which may be why Channel 3 Facebook fans voted Marion County's visit to arch rival South Pittsburg as the Friday Night Football Game of the Week.
A series that dates back to 1924 has become quite lopsided in recent years with the Pirates (2-0) winning six in a row. South Pittsburg has recorded four shutouts in that stretch while outscoring Marion County 273-40.
However, a new coach has brought new hope to Jasper entering the 88th meeting between the two programs.
First-year head coach Mac McCurry led the Warriors (3-1) to their first 3-0 start since 1995 before last week's loss at Hixson. Marion County beat Grundy County, Bledsoe County and fellow county-rival Whitwell, and were on the verge of a 4-0 mark before blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead against the Wildcats.
Blake Zeman and Jayme Ford have chewed up yards on the ground in the Warriors' powerful rushing attack. Zeman already boasts a pair of 100-yard efforts, including a 155-yard outburst in the season-opener against Grundy County, while Ford hit the century mark in the rout of Whitwell.
The Pirates (3-0), though, boast plenty of firepower as well in an offense averaging nearly 59 points per game. South Pittsburg scored 58 against Grundy, 69 against Lookout Valley before posting 49 at Sequatchie County last week.
While not as deep from top-to-bottom, the Pirates' roster is stacked at tailback Demetric Johnson, Jajuan Lankford and Corbin Hale each have a pair of 100-yard games.
Johnson has the standout performance of the bunch, exploding for 309 yards and a school-record tying six touchdowns against Lookout Valley.
A standing-room only crowd is expected for the 8 p.m. ET kickoff Friday night, which will serve as the Pirates' home-opener. Channel 3's Paul Shahen and Jordan Tippit will be live at Beene Stadium in South Pittsburg with full coverage on Channel 3's award-winning Friday Night Football starting at 11:10 p.m. ET.
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