Gordon Lee versus Trion.
Not much more needs to be said.
The oldest, continuously played rivalry in the entire state will be renewed at 7:30 tonight when the Bulldogs come to Chickamauga to face the Trojans.
“Think of Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, even Lakeview-Ringgold,” Gordon Lee head coach Charlie Wiggins explained. “It’s two small communities close together, and when you cross over and play them, it’s a big game. It’s a pride game.”
Trion won last year’s clash, 6-0, snapping Gordon Lee’s two-game winning streak in the all-time series. The Trojans had won six of the last seven from the Bulldogs before last year, although Trion still owns a pretty significant 56-21 edge in the series, which also includes one tie.
“The kids sense and know it’s a big game,” Wiggins continued. “There have been times in this series history where both teams have made runs. It’s been an ebb-and-flow type of series for each.”
The two fierce rivals have met on the gridiron every year since 1946, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website, save for 1943 and 1945 when the game was interrupted by World War II.
And as has been the case many times, this year’s game will have its share of playoff implications.
Trion (4-2, 1-1) currently sits ninth in the most recent Class A public school power rankings and needs the win to help them move into the top eight where they would secure a first-round game at home.
Meanwhile, Gordon Lee (3-3, 0-2) is 14th in the rankings, and with only the top 16 teams qualifying for the playoffs, needs the win to help their hopes alive.
Both teams opened the year with three straight wins, but have slipped in recent weeks. Trion lost two in a row to subregion leaders Darlington and Mount Paran Christian before getting back on track with a win over Mount Zion two weeks ago. The Bulldogs were off last Friday night.
However, Gordon Lee followed up their three wins over LFO, Coahulla Creek, and Armuchee with losses to Whitefield Academy, Christian Heritage, and Darlington, failing to score a single point in all three games.
“We’ve been in a dry spell, offensively,” Wiggins said. “We just haven’t made the plays when we’ve needed to make them. When you drop a pass or two here and miss an assignment there, you put yourself in holes that you can’t be in if you expect to win, especially in big games.”
Senior quarterback Cory Bethune leads the Bulldog offense, while running backs Malik Martin and Chandler Lathem give Bethune a solid one-two punch out of the backfield. Up front, Trion will have a size advantage with the likes of senior Bret Peterson (6-4, 285) and senior Daulton Hegwood (6-3, 310).
“They are a big team,” Wiggins added. “Bethune is a good player on both sides of the ball, and they are good at making teams work for points. They don’t give up a lot. They only common opponent for us is Darlington. We gave up one less point then they did, although they scored a few more points than we did against them. It should be an interesting game.”