CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Malik Brewer popped a few more Advil than usual early this week.
The big Boyd-Buchanan lineman is far from out of shape, but that doesn't mean he was rust-free when he put the pads back to prep for Saturday's tenth annual Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic.
"Oh man," Brewer said with a smile. "Monday night the back of my neck and my back, they were hurting."
It's all worth it for the more than 60 standouts from both sides of the border who will don their school colors one last time in Saturday's 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff at McCallie's Spears Stadium.
More than a dozen counties from each state will be represented on rosters that boast nearly two-dozen athletes who have signed college scholarships.
"It's hot when you put these pads back on, but man it's fun," said Hixson wideout Allante Novene, who will play at the University of the Cumberlands next season. "It's easy to come out here and be competitive because everyone around you is competitive and pushing you."
Boyd-Buchanan's Grant Reynolds is trying to become the first head coach in the series to go 2-0. He led Tennessee to a 17-0 win in 2010 and was an assistant in last year's 7-3 win, which improved the Volunteer State's lead in the series to 6-3.
"He made sure to tell us he was undefeated the last two years," said Cleveland wideout C.J. Bryant. "We're going to do everything to get him to 3-0."
"This is their night and their time," Reynolds responded. "They've seen friends and former teammates come into this game and get a victory, now it's their turn to enjoy it.
"The teams that have really been successful have been the ones that can really come together and play as one unit. Our goal is to be together as a team and have some fun."
David Gann's Georgia roster may have an advantage in that regard.
A large portion of the North Murray head coach's group has already played together on the North Georgia all-star team in December's Coalition Bowl.
"It hasn't taken us long to pick everything up," said Dade County wideout Travis Nunley.
Both teams boast some beef up front, with Brewer forming a monstrous tandem with Howard's Brandon Walters in the middle for Tennessee.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive end signee D.J. Prather is one of several standouts on the defensive line for Georgia, but the offense-oriented Gann is more excited about one of Prather's Gordon Central teammates from the other side of the ball.
"Our defensive line is big and can run, but our quarterback will be fun to watch because he is by far our best athlete," Gann said of M.J. Reynolds, a dual-threat who signed with Georgia State. "You have to go with your personnel. If we had Herschel Walker out here we'd line up nine guys and run it every time, but this year we've got a Charlie Ward.
"We're going to let him run around and throw it."
Tennessee will counter with its own speed and athleticism with Bryant and Novene on the outside, while also featuring a steady dose of Lookout Valley's Jamal Jones and Walker Valley's Justin Ware on the ground.
They'll all keep the Tylenol handing for the next few days, but in exchange for a rare reward.
"We've got about 25 or 30 guys that know this will be the last time they ever put a helmet on," Gann said. "Wednesday I was ready to end practice and all the guys just kept asking for one more play, so right now they just can't get enough of it.
"You'll be able to see it in their face when they walk off the field Saturday night that it's over, so they want to make the most of it."
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