Holcomb, Steele

NSM's Lucas Steele pursues Section's Jace Holcomb during last season's rivalry game. The teams meet Friday night with a share of the Class 2A Region 7 lead at stake.

The Jackson County football rivalry between North Sand Mountain and Section has been a long and competitive one.

But in all of their previous 46 meetings, not many have had as high of stakes riding on the outcome as the teams’ 2020 matchup.

“There’s always the (rivalry) bragging rights at stake,” said NSM head coach Keith Kirby, “but now there some real big region importance to it.”

NSM (2-0, 1-0) and Section (2-1, 1-0), along with Falkville, currently share the lead in the Class 2A Region 7 standings. But either Section or NSM will move in front of the other Friday night when they square off at 7 p.m. at Lloyd Dobbins Field in Higdon.

“The winner gets to control (their own destiny),” said Section head coach Chris Hammon.

It’s the 47th meeting between the teams in an ultra-competitive series that NSM leads 23-22-1. The Bison have won three straight against Section, whose last win in the series came in 2014 (the teams did not play in 2016-2017).

Section has played NSM more than any other opponent while NSM has played only Pisgah (49) and Ider (48) more times than it has played Section. 

NSM enters the game after posting wins of 34-6 over Woodville and 40-13 over region foe Ider.

The Bison took control in the first half of those games and cruised to victory, but Kirby said the team’s performance must be sharper against a surging Section team.

“We’ve got to fix our mistakes. We played good at times (last week) but we’ve got to continue to get better,” Kirby said. “Section’s playing really good football, won two in a row and was right there in the other game. They’ve got some good skills guys we’ve got to try to contain. Defensively they move guys around and come at you.”

Hammon was pleased with Section’s 34-21 win over Tanner last week, but said the Lions must raise their level up a notch against the Bison. 

“The biggest thing was we missed a lot of tackles,” Hammon said. “We can’t have that happen again. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound, we’ve got to tackle to have a chance.”

Although it is early in the season, both coaches noted the magnitude of the matchup.

“It’s fun to be in this position, playing with a lot at stake,” Hammon said. “This is a pivotal matchup.”

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