Bearden

Derek Bearden and North Sand Mountain host undefeated Cedar Bluff in Class 2A Region 8 play Friday night.

It’s not often that high school football teams enter a game having already had firsthand experience with their opponent.

But that’s the case for North Sand Mountain and Cedar Bluff, who face off Friday at 7 p.m. in Class 2A Region 8 matchup at NSM’s Lloyd Dobbins Field in Higdon.

The Bison defeated Cedar Bluff 20-0 in the a two-quarter scrimmage during the Cherokee County Fall Jamboree at Gaylesville High School on Aug. 22.

 “We could just start the third quarter with that score,” said NSM head coach Keith Kirby with a laugh.

Instead, the teams will start over with four quarters to play to determine which teams enhances its playoff chances and region title hopes.

“It’s got some definite implication for playoffs,” Kirby said.

It’s the seventh all-time meeting between the teams in a series that is tied 3-3. NSM won last year’s meeting 40-6.  

NSM (3-2, 2-1) dominated play in the teams’ scrimmage as Cedar Bluff struggled with snaps and other fundamental issues that often arise in jamborees. 

Those Cedar Bluff (5-0, 3-0) issues have been worked out, Kirby said, adding the Tigers are “playing well right now.”

“They’re obviously a better team than when we played them (in the jamboree),” Kirby said. “We’ve been telling the kids that. We better know that.”

The Tigers feature a balanced offense led by quarterback Samuel Cosby, who is 42-of-70 passing for 561 yards and seven touchdowns while also rushing for 154 yards and five touchdowns on 40 carries. Cedar Bluff has three rushers nearing the 200-yard mark for the season while Anbre Leek has a team-high 15 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns.

“Being able to stop what they do is going to be the key,” Kirby said. “They’ve had success running, had success through the air. They run a lot of RPOs. We’ve got to try to slow that down.”

NSM is coming off a 43-36 non-region loss at Sylvania.

“We’re still looking to put a complete game together,” Kirby said. “If we can get both sides, offense and defense, both rolling at the same time, we’ll be OK.”

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