Friday night will be the 15th Battle of the Valley that I’ve covered for the Sentinel. Seeing how this is 32nd meeting between archrivals Scottsboro and North Jackson, my math skills tell me I’ve covered nearly half of those meetings.
To me, The Battle of the Valley and the Jackson County Basketball Tournament are the two biggest sporting events in Jackson County.
Trammell Stadium will be full. It always is, regardless of the factors surrounding the game. People who won’t see another game all year will see this one. And there will be people there who skip their teams’ games to come watch this one. The game always feels different than others I cover.
It’s hard for me to believe I’ve covered that many games in the rivalry. I’ve seen some of the best games in the series history, and frankly, some of the weirdest.
The 2012 field goal/field goal block game that North Jackson won 27-25 started an unpredictable stretch for this rivalry. The next year Scottsboro ended a nine-game losing streak to the Chiefs by handing them a 55-0 loss. A year later, running backs DK Billingsley and Octavious Matthews traded jaw-dropping plays before an unlikely defensive play by Brett Barbee secured the North Jackson win.
In 2015, Scottsboro erased a 21-3 deficit to win 30-28, and a year later the Wildcats finally won in Stevenson thanks to a strong effort from Billingsley and quarterback Bo Nix, players who now start at Troy and Auburn respectively. In 2017, Scottsboro scored three touchdowns in the first 1:21 of the third quarter to go from down seven to an eventual 56-27 victory. And last season, North Jackson won 56-3 to end its first extended losing streak in the series.
Could we be set up for more wackiness with this rivalry this season?
Scottsboro is riding high after three straight wins. A win Friday sends the Wildcats into the second half of region play with momentum. North Jackson has suffered some bitter losses. But a win Friday night rights the ship for the Chiefs.
So they’ll battle for the valley in the 32nd Battle of the Valley. And when it’s over, for the 15th time since 2005, I’ll write about it and hope the story does the latest chapter of this great rivalry justice.