This year’s Haywood County Clash between Tuscola and Pisgah football will be highlighted by the Great American Rivalry Series.
Entering its 16th season, the Great American Rivalry Series covers the biggest high school football rivalries in the country, and has covered 859 games across 44 states since 2004. The rivalry partners with the ScoreStream app, which will allow fans to upload scores, photos and videos during the game.
The United States Marines are heavily involved with the series; they’ll be part of a pep rally at Tuscola High School featuring inflatables and balloons and a pullup challenge, and will also bring an inflatable football balloon and run their pullup challenge at the game. After the game, the Marines will present the Great American Rivalry Series Trophy to the winner.
The series looks for rivalries that are competitive on both sides, draws a large crowd and is longstanding and well-known in the community. The Pisgah-Tuscola game checks all those boxes and then some.
“You see a lot of respect from the schools for the other one at the same time that they’re competitive and so fierce,” said Juliana Palomino, the Digital Marketing Activation Manager for the series. “That combination is unique; a lot of schools are more one or the other. So this rivalry stands apart because the schools respect each other so much but also still do have that really exciting competition between them.”
The game has been featured by the series several times before, including in its inaugural season.
For the two schools, and the Waynesville and Canton Communities, being highlighted by the rivalry series is a chance to showcase on a national level just how big of a rivalry the game represents.
“You’ve just got two great programs with a lot of tradition,” said Tuscola Athletics Director Michael Belue. “A small town, a relatively small county with just two high schools. It’s bragging rights for the year. Their parents work together over here at different places, over there at different places.
“People from Waynesville work in Canton; people from Canton work in Waynesville. All the creeks and the valleys in the county, they all come together and work throughout the year and it’s just bragging rights for families and for our students. … It’s like fighting your brother. You don’t ever want to lose to your brother.”
Through the exposure from the rivalry series, people from around the country will be able to see just what the Tuscola-Pisgah game means to the two schools and the Canton and Waynesville communities, and that it’s one of the best atmospheres that high school football has to offer.
“I think there’s two big things that tell me about this rivalry, and I’ve lived here my whole life,”said Pisgah AD Casey Kruk. “Even until you’re involved in it, you don’t really realize it.
“We’ve got football coaches from around the state that are always asking me when I see them out at the clinic when this game is, because if it’s their open week, they’re coming. You also hear stories of everybody in the world buying 50/50 tickets, including the referees that come in to these events. It’s a major happening. People think they’ve got these big rivalries in other states and they certainly do, but this one’s one of the biggest.”
In addition to the championship trophy, the Marines and the Great American Rivalry Series will award a senior student-athlete from each team with a college scholarship based on their abilities both on the field and in the classroom.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Kruk said. “Especially when you consider a football team which may have 50 kids on the roster. To be the top GPA on that team is a big deal. And these guys are often scrutinized about how they do or what they did or plays that they did or didn’t make. But to recognize them on that academic side for what they’ve accomplished, that means a lot.”
The Tuscola vs. Pisgah football game will kickoff at Weatherby Football Stadium at Waynesville Middle School on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
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