North Sand Mountain head football coach Keith Kirby can save the motivational speeches for another week.
With the Bison set to face their state-line rival Dade County of Trenton, Georgia, motivation isn’t lacking in Higdon this week.
“If you can’t get excited for this game,” Kirby said,” you should find something else to do.”
The 15th meeting between the teams is Friday at 7 p.m. at NSM’s Lloyd Dobbins Field in Higdon.
The schools are located just 9.1 miles apart according to Google Maps, and the communities are intertwined in numerous ways despite being in different states.
“The communities, they get behind this game,” Kirby said. “The communities are so close, you want to get that win. Everybody’s going to play hard Friday night.”
Dade County leads the series 9-5, but NSM has won four of the last seven meetings. The series resumed in 2012 after a 16-year break.
NSM is riding a two-game winning streak against Dade County, including a 41-13 victory over the Wolverines last season in Trenton. It was NSM’s largest margin of victory in the series.
NSM heads into the rematch with some uncertainty about who will be taking the snaps.
Landon Green, a Class 2A all-state honorable mention last season, is entering his third season at quarterback. But he’s been sidelined by an injury, and his status for the game is “a game-time decision,” Kirby said.
If Green doesn’t play, Lake Bell will take the snaps. Bell got high marks from Kirby for his play at quarterback last week during NSM’s jamboree scrimmages with Cedar Bluff and Spring Garden.
“He’s showed it to us in practice that he can (play the position) and showed it even more (in the jamboree),” Kirby said. “He can do the job. We know he can. We can run the whole offense with him there. If he’s a quarterback, that means another guys got to step up and file his role because Bell is a three-year starting receiver.”
While NSM is set to play its season opener, it will be game No. 2 for Dade County (0-1).
The Wolverines, who are now coached by former Pisgah, Plainview, Fort Payne and Albertville head coach Dale Pruitt — the father of current Pisgah head coach Luke Pruitt and Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt — opened their season with a 28-16 loss at home to Gordon Lee of Chickamauga, Georgia last week.
The Wolverines’ main offensive weapon is four-year starting running back Malachi Webb, who also saw time at receiver and quarterback a week ago. Webb ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
“Webb is their go-to guy,” Kirby said. “They’re going to get the ball to him, and if not, they’re using him as a decoy when they give it to somebody else. We’ve got to try to stop him. In any game, if you can stop the run, you like your chances more.”
Kirby said the Wolverines operated offensively out of Wing-T, Double Wing and Spread sets against Gordon Lee. Webb often saw snaps at quarterback when Dade County worked from the spread.
“In a way,” Kirby said, “it’s like trying to prepare for two different opponents.”
Kirby expects another tough tussle with the Wolverines.
“It’s a big game, big crowd (and) big atmosphere,” Kirby said. “Hopefully some big time play by us.”