When I first moved to Maryville I heard all the horror stories of rebel flags and redneck idiocy surrounding the Maryville HS Rebels. And I vowed, in principle, to root against Maryville High School in football. But I went with a neighbor to the game last week against Powell and not only found no Confederate flags (they've been banned) but no likenesses of them on t-shirts or elsewhere. It occurred to me at that point that the Maryville Rebels were not so hopelessly associated in the general public with neo-Confederatism or its associated brands of political retardation. So I became a fan, reluctantly I suppose, but a fan nonetheless. It seemed safe to root for the Maryville Rebels football.
That brings us to this week, where the Marvville HS Rebels take their 50 game winning streak against Blount County rival and rising 5A state power William Blount HS. I've been listening to the game on local wingnut radio - aka "truth" radio at WBCR 1470. It's been a riveting game so far. Maryville is up 13-6 late in the 3rd quarter.
So here I am, able to root for the team that plays just three blocks from my house. I never gave a damn about high school football in high school or any time since. And I never imagined I'd be following it as an adult. The MHS Rebels seemed an unlikely catalyst for igniting my interest in high school football. The Maryville Rebels name is deeply offensive, even if the locals have largely eschewed the rebel imagery on game days (contrary to years past, apparently). And one of the sponsors on the bizarre WBCR is the comically politically incorrect Kenjo Markets - "Follow the Running Indian" (who the hell runs ads like that these days?). In the strange world of East Tennessee, there is little more entertaining than football in Blount County. That would mean: Maryville HS football (50-game winning streak and 6 of the last 7 state championships in 4A; Alcoa HS football (three straight 2A state championships); William Blount (ranked fifth statewide in 5A). Three of the four Blount County high school football teams are legitimate state championship contenders. Oh, and then there's the 4-0 Maryville College team. Yes, we play damn good football in this here Blount County. And I reckon any of you fools elsewhere in Tennessee - or in America, for that matter - can't match Blount County in football excellence. It sure beats the weekly excretion at Neyland Stadium in far inferior Knox County.
William Blount scored a touchdown on a long play. And now Maryville has responded with a hook-and-ladder play. It's 20-13 Maryville with about 4 minutes left.
Unbelievable. William Blount drives down with a touchdown with just over 2 minutes left. BUT THEY MISS THE EXTRA POINT!!! Yes, folks, that's what separates high school football from 1-A and Pro football: special teams. How the hell do you miss the extra point to tie the game?
A failed onside kick by William Blount means Maryville recovers at the 49 and the fans are imploding, throwing crap on the field. The announcers are indignant, but I can sympathize. William Blount was THAT close to pulling off one of the greatest upsets in recent high school football history.
It's over. Maryville High School wins 20-19 over William Blount High School. One of the nation's longest high school football winning streaks is still intact. Yet, an up and coming rival (from a higher division no less) came within a missed extra point of sending this game potentially into overtime. What an amazing football game. I considered watching it live while driving down US-321 today, but figured I'd rather stay at home. What an amazing game. And what a bizarre finish. Weird and aggravating as Blount County can be at times, this is one of those neat moments where the county did well. The players played their hearts out and showed why Blount County is the football capital of Tennessee.
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