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Rivalry renewed Thursday in Jemison

Published 2:42pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

When it comes to football, everyone loves a good rivalry.

There’s nothing like two fan bases with clashing traditions convening in a stadium to watch their respective squads go toe-to-toe.

Sometimes a position in the playoffs rides on the outcome; sometimes a region or state championship rides on it.

And sometimes, it’s about nothing more than bragging rights.

That will be the case when the Maplesville Red Devils travel to Jemison on Thursday; the two schools aren’t even in the same classification, [Jemison competes in Class 4A, Maplesville in 1A] but the rivalry has been one of Chilton County’s best.

“The kids know each other, so there’s no problem getting them motivated,” said Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert. “You have no problems getting focused for the game when you know each other.”

Hubbert has as much history as anyone with the series. His first head coaching was at JHS, in 2001, after he served as an assistant coach there.

Hubbert won 17 games in three seasons at Jemison and has won 85 games at Maplesville. A member of Hubbert’s staff this season, Brad Abbott, was Jemison’s head coach before the current one, Merritt Bowden.

Abbott won 46 games in seven seasons at JHS.

The schools themselves have an interesting history. The rivalry resumes this season after an 11-year hiatus, with Mapleville taking the last win, 19-16, in 2001 and also holding a 16-9-1 advantage in the series.

The Red Devils are red hot coming into the showdown with the Panthers, coming off a huge win over No. 7 in Class 1A Keith, 55-7. Still, with the playoff picture put on hold for the moment, Hubbert said his team faces a daunting task.

“It’s tough on us,” he said. “We’re playing a team three times our size. Our kids know what a challenge it is.”

The Panthers are also heading to the postseason, but after three tough losses in a row, the Panthers and coach Merritt Bowden are looking for a win over Maplesville to right the ship going into the playoffs.

WHO WILL WIN?

This one should be a classic. Maplesville is one of the state’s best teams in Class 1A, but we will find out how much classifications matter when the Red Devils go on the road to take on Class 4A Jemison. If this game were played earlier in the season, Jemison might have the edge. But Maplesville is a team right now that no one in the state—regardless of classification—wants to play.

Pick: Maplesville | Picks record: 44-16

ALSO THIS WEEK

Thorsby (1-8) at Isabella (3-6)

Isabella has lost four consecutive games, but Thorsby hasn’t won since the first game of the season, against Verbena. With neither team headed to the playoffs, this game is all about pride, but that can be a significant motivator. The last win for either Isabella or Thorsby? County rival Verbena. Isabella should win for the fourth time in the last six games against THS. Pick: Isabella

Chilton Co. (8-1) at Calera (8-1)

This match-up could prove to be both interesting and dangerous for Chilton County. The Tigers haven’t played this nearby foe since 1967, according to the best available records. And according to those records, CCHS has won both games they’ve played. But Chilton County could easily look past the Eagles and the playoffs next week. Pick: Calera

Billingsley (6-3) at Verbena (1-8)

Billingsley finds itself in a situation similar to Chilton County this week: on the road against a team hungry for an upset and possibly looking ahead to the beginning of postseason play. But Verbena might not have what’s necessary to send its fans home happy for the first time this season (the Red Devils’ win came via a forfeit by Fayetteville). Pick: Billingsley

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