JASPER, Tenn. (WRCB) -- There's never a shortage of emotion when South Pittsburg and Marion County meet in any sport, but football is always a little fierce.
This year, the anticipation has built to a fever pitch as the two local rivals meet on the gridiron to play for the District 6-A championship in the Friday Night Football Game of the Week.
Both teams stand at 8-1 overall and 4-0 in district play, but the recent history of the series has been anything but even.
The Pirates have won seven straight dating back to 2006, which is their longest string of success in the 90-year-old series. An eighth straight victory will tie the longest winning streak for either side in the series, which Marion County has accomplished twice.
Since Marion County's 13-12 win in 2006 tied the all-time series at 38-38-4, the Pirates have outscored the Warriors 322-61 over the past seven meetings, which included three shutouts.
South Pittsburg enters this year's showdown as the top-ranked team in the state in Class A thanks to a seven-game winning streak. The Pirates were humbled at home in a 29-6 lopsided loss to Hixson in Week 2, but have since reeled off seven straight wins by an average of 40 points.
As usual, South Pitt's offense features a stable of talented backs in JaJuan Lankford, Kahlil Mitchell and Corbin Fitzgerald, but first-year coach Tim Moore credits much of their success to an experienced offensive line.
Quarterback Kitt Grider has also flashed the ability to make plays in the passing game with deep threats like Anthony Sellers, but the Pirates create most of their opportunities on the ground.
Across the county, the Warriors' turn-around is complete under second-year coach Mac McCurry. Just two years removed from a program-worst 1-9 season, Marion County brings a five-game winning streak and the state's No. 4 ranking in Class 2A into this year's Sequatchie Valley showdown.
Fullback Blake Zeman, who earned Channel 3's Player of the Game honors a month ago in a Game of the Week victory over Sequatchie County, continues to be the focal point of a modified Wing-T attack, though many playmakers have emerged.
Sophomore quarterback Logan Walters has given the Warriors an option in the air, hooking up several times this season on long scoring plays with Clay O'Shields. Hamilton Shoemaker and Josh Henderson have also helped Zeman shoulder the rushing load on an offense averaging 41.7 points per game.
The Marion County defense has also proven stout in holding six of its nine opponents to eight points or less, including two shutouts.
South Pittsburg pulled away in the second half for a 49-21 win in last year's meeting, which served as one of just three losses for Marion County en route to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
This year's showdown is scheduled for an 8 p.m. ET kick in Jasper. Paul Shahen and Mark Tipton will provide live coverage on Week 10 of Channel 3's Friday Night Football starting at 11:10 p.m. ET.
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