HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Local rivalry games resume

Published 3:56 pm Thursday, October 31, 2013

Even though one week of the regular season remains, the playoff fates for local high school football teams have been decided.

Five (Billingsley, Chilton County, Isabella, Jemison, Maplesville) are in. Two (Thorsby and Verbena) are out.

So, what is left to play for this week? The answer is simple: pride.

Each local team except CCHS will suit up against a local rival, and even the Tigers’ game against Calera could be considered a budding rivalry, with the Eagles’ growing program headquartered 24 miles up Highway 31.

The rivalry games are especially important for Thorsby and Verbena because they don’t have a playoff berth to look forward to. Expect the Rebels and Red Devils to lay it all on the line when they take on Isabella and Billingsley, respectively.

Thorsby-Isabella is one of the county’s fiercest rivalries. The two schools—just 8.5 miles apart—have played more than 40 times, with Isabella winning 28 times and Thorsby winning 14 times, according to the best available records.

Isabella has won two straight and outscored the Rebels 75-0 in those games.

Thorsby was the last team in the series to win more than two in a row, when THS claimed four straight from 2003-2006. Before that, Isabella won seven straight, almost matching the series’ longest streak of eight in a row by Isabella from 1982 to 1993.

Billingsley has a chance to even up its all-time series with Verbena, according to the best available records. Billingsley has won 25 games in the series compared to Verbena’s 26.

Billingsley has won two straight in the series, outscoring the Red Devils 81-7.

Verbena won three straight in the series from 1998-2000, but Billingsley won 12 consecutive meetings from 1986 to 1997.

Thursday night’s Maplesville-Jemison game might be the most intriguing match-up of the week as it pits the unbeaten Class 1A Red Devils against a playoff-caliber Class 4A team in Jemison.

Maplesville won last year, 48-35, in the resumption of a rivalry that hadn’t been played since 2001, when the Red Devils also won.

The longest winning streak in the series seems to be three games, which was achieved by JHS with a win in 1971 and then two more in 1994-95. MHS matched that streak with wins from 1996-98.

CCHS-Calera represents the other end of the rivalry spectrum, as the teams have met only three times previously, with the Tigers winning all three, including last year’s 29-23 victory.

Chilton also won in 1966 (22-7) and 1967 (21-19).