North Sand Mountain enters a historic meeting with its archrival in position to make program history.
Meanwhile, Pisgah enters that matchup with an opportunity for a season-turning moment.
“It’s a big rivalry,” said NSM head coach Keith Kirby, “and you always better be ready to play in a rivalry. You never know what’s going to happen.”
NSM and Pisgah are set for the 50th playing of their rivalry series when they meet Friday night at Pisgah High School’s Sam Kenimer Stadium.
The teams first met in 1965 and have played every year since 1975.
For the first time since 2017, the teams meet as region opponents. Kickoff for the Class 2A Region 7 contest is Friday at 7 p.m.
Pisgah leads the series 33-16. The teams have split the last 12 meetings, but NSM currently holds a three-game winning streak in the series. The Bison have never beaten Pisgah four straight times, a feat it will try to accomplish this week.
Class 2A No. 7-ranked NSM (5-0, 3-0) can also make more program history, as a win over the Eagles would give NSM its best start to a season in school history at 6-0.
For Pisgah, the chance to play spoiler would also give a coach Luke Pruitt’s young team a huge boost of momentum going down the stretch of region play. Despite its tough start, Pisgah (1-4, 1-1) sits firmly in the hunt for playoff spot with four region games remaining.
“We know it’s a challenge but it’s a great opportunity for us,” Pruitt said. “Our kids know that we’re still in (the playoff race). They’re working to get better and mentally they’re still there.”
Kirby echoed Pruitt’s assessment.
“They’re getting better every week,” Kirby said of Pisgah. “They’re young, but you see improvement. They try to formation you (on offense), outnumber you to run and then play-action you and throw it over you. (The coaches) put them in positions to make plays. Defensively they bring a lot of pressure. That’s something we’ve got to be aware of.”
NSM has been a little sluggish at the start of its last two games, Kirby said, and he’s hoping the rivalry juices help the Bison start fast against Pisgah.
“We haven’t played too good the last two weeks. We’ve got to come out of the gate a lot better than we have been,” Kirby said. “That’s been a point of emphasis this week.”
Pruitt said Pisgah needed a strong start of its own and must eliminate the big plays that doomed them in its last two matchups with the Bison.
“(NSM is) well-coached and confident in what they do, so we’ve got to get off the field and not give up big plays,” Pruitt said. “We need to create some negative plays for them and win the turnover battle, and offensively, we need to sustain drives.”
Pisgah to honor its 2000 Class 2A state runner-up team — Prior to kickoff, Pisgah High School will honor the 20th anniversary of its 2000 team’s Class 2A state runner-up finish.
That season, Pisgah, coached by John Kirby, won a school-record 13 games, finished 13-2 and advanced to the state finals for the first time. The Eagles lost to Clay County 27-7 in the Class 2A state championship game played at historic Legion Field in Birmingham
“It’s a big night for the community to honor that 2000 team,” Pruitt said.