Tanner Boatfield and NSM host state-line rival Dade County (Georgia) Friday night.

The North Sand Mountain-Dade County (Georgia) state-line rivalry has become a must-see game on each team’s schedule since the programs resumed their series in 2011. 

But last season, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the series. The Georgia High School Association delayed the start of its 2020 season, meaning NSM and Dade County’s Week 1 matchup was canceled.

Fast forward a year later, and the rivals are set to get back on the field against one another when Dade County travels to Higdon to take on the Bison at Lloyd Dobbins Field on Friday at 7 p.m. central time.

“It’s nice the renew the rivalry again,” said NSM head coach Keith Kirby. “We all hated we didn’t get to play last year, so everybody’s excited about it.”

Friday’s game is the 16th all-time meeting between the state-line rivals whose schools are separated by approximately 10 miles. Dade County leads the series 9-6, but NSM has won the last three meetings and has won five of the last seven meetings.

The Bison are riding a 16-game home winning streak — NSM’s last home loss was to Fyffe in 2018 — and have won their last two meetings at home against Dade County by a combined three points.

“It’s always a good (game),” said Kirby, who is 3-1 against Dade County during his tenure at NSM. “We had the year off (from the rivalry series) and then you throw in that (Dade County has) a new coaching staff, we’re not as familiar with them as in the past.”

Dade County (1-0) enters the contest after defeating Gordon Lee of Chickamauga, Georgia 21-12 last week. The Wolverines, coached by Jeff Poston, have moved to a spread offense and out-produced Gordon Lee 339 to 64 in total yards, according to a report by Scott Herpst of the Walker County (Georgia) Messenger, which also reported that Dade County running back Cayden Cooper had 161 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries while quarterback Brady Cooper had 67 yards on 11 carries and Cody Williams had 52 yards on eight carries. Cooper was 4-of-6 passing for 58 yards. Defensively, defensive lineman Isaac Pangle recorded 10 tackles, including eight for a loss, during the Wolverine victory.

“They’re a really solid football team (and) play physical and fast,” Kirby said. “They’re going to be a really good challenge. I saw them in some scrimmages where they threw the ball a lot, but the other night (against Gordon Lee), they ran it mostly. If they watch the film (from NSM’s jamboree) they’ll probably throw it all over the field.”

NSM surrendered three touchdown passes and a number of long pass plays in a two-quarter scrimmage against Sand Rock last Thursday. 

“We’ve got to shore up the back end (of the defense) that’s for sure and be a good tackling team,” Kirby said. “We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to clean up and execute better at what we do. Got to make plays when we get the chance.”

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