Jason Bowen

The intensity, the interest and importance never wavered. 

But after North Jackson’s ninth-straight win in the series in 2012, a heartbreaking one for Scottsboro no less — the Wildcats appeared to kick the winning field goal in the final seconds, but an offsides penalty on North Jackson forced Scottsboro to re-kick, and the attempt was blocked — the series was in a tough place.

Some social media posts from some frustrated Scottsboro fans wanted the series to end. Thankfully the coaches and administrators at SHS make that call and not those on Twitter and Facebook. 

Four years later, this rivalry is back in the state it was in the mid-1990s, when both teams were strong and both entered the game with strong chances of winning.

Scottsboro got its confidence back in the series with its 55-0 drubbing of the Chiefs during the 2013 season. 

Then came two of the best high school football games I have ever covered, let alone watched.

I still marvel at the absolute show that North Jackson’s Octavius Matthews and Scottsboro’s DeKarlos Billingsley put on during the 2014 season’s 42-39 North Jackson win, which was preserved when Brett Barbee took the ball away from a Scottsboro ball carrier inside the Chiefs’ 10-yard line with less than a minute to play.

I still marvel at how Scottsboro got off the canvas last year to rally and win. The Wildcats fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter and then fumbled the ensuing kickoff. I’ll admit it — I thought at that point it was game over. But Austin Freeman intercepted a North Jackson pass at the goal line, and Scottsboro came to life after dodging that knockout punch and ultimately won 30-28.

Those are the type of games and moments that this rivalry can produce

Scottsboro coach Patrick Nix said this week that legends are born in this game. North Jackson coach Mark Rose called it one of the state’s best rivalries.

It’s the biggest sporting event in Jackson County every year. Don’t believe me? Arrive right before kickoff. You might make it into the stadium by the second quarter. And considering the classic games these two rivals have played the last two seasons, you don’t want to miss a single play.


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