High school football fans in the north end of Rutherford County have been treated over the years to some fantastic football games between backyard rivals Smyrna and LaVergne. Times and zoning have changed and things are not quite the same, but nevertheless when these two face off on Friday, the mercury will still be rising.
This matchup has been more than a little one-sided as Smyrna has won every year except one (2000). Yes, the Bulldogs have administered a few whippings, but they have also won their share of nail-biters in a series that dates back to 1989. The latest came in 2017 when Smyrna overcame a 21 point deficit in the second half and won 34-28 on a last second hail Mary pass.
“That 2017 game was certainly one we will always remember”, says Smyrna head coach Matt Williams who will be participating in his 21st North Rutherford County Rumble as both assistant and head coach. “In this series there have been lots of very close and memorable games. It’s always a big deal for us when we play LaVergne because of the close community ties. It’s also special because you get to see all the passion and determination the players pour into a game like this.”
The 2021 contest will feature a Smyrna team that is unbeaten on the field but does have a Covid forfeit on the resume. Wins over Stewart’s Creek (14-12) and Hillsboro (24-7) are sandwiched around the forfeit to Rockvale. LaVergne comes in with a record of 1-2. Home losses to Rockvale (43-20) and Siegel (28-27) were followed with a Covid forfeit win against Antioch.
Neither team has had the luxury of playing for three consecutive weeks and the goal for every program is to see improvement from one Friday to the next. Facing the challenges of today’s world, both the Bulldogs and Wolverines are continuing to do what they do as this head knocker approaches.
“We hated missing last week’s game because you are only guaranteed of ten Friday nights in a season so they are all precious”, says Wolverine head coach Mike Woodward. “I feel like we got some good work in despite not being able to play. We have made a lot of mistakes in the first two ball games so our main concentration needs to be on being a better LaVergne.”
The Smyrna staff feels much the same as far as missing a regularly scheduled game. The Dogs at least hope to have some momentum having played last Friday.
“Missing a week in between games makes things tougher because you hope to build and improve from game to game”, says Williams. “We have had kids in and out of school and practice so it has been harder than normal. We are certainly a work in progress and have lots of things we need to do better.”
For high school football fans, the opportunity to see games of this magnitude is always good. Records usually do not matter as competition is always fierce. For Williams and Smyrna the challenge is continuing to find a way to get the win. Woodward and LaVergne are looking to turn the tide in the other direction.
“Keeping things going our way is never taken for granted in these games”, says Williams. “What makes this year even more special is it is our first region game and it is important to get off to a good start in league play.”
“In my brief time here there have been some wild and crazy games with Smyrna”, says Woodward who is now in his second year as Wolverine head coach and fifth overall on the LaVergne sideline. “We have had some opportunities but have let things slip away. We are hoping to get things turned around in what is a very special series to a lot of people.”
Kickoff is slated for 7 pm on September 10 at Robert Raikes Stadium on the campus of Smyrna high school.