“The thing about playing Comer is that it is one of the oldest rivalries in the state,” Sylacauga head coach Matt Griffith said. “I think I told the radio station a couple days ago that the city has a lot to be proud of. It is rare for the city to have two schools, both with winning records right now, both have qualified for the playoffs and they are a rock throw from each other. That is a lot to be proud of. It has probably been a while since both schools consistently had a winning record and made the playoffs. It doesn’t happen this way. The city needs to be very proud of both schools and both sets of kids.”
B.B. Comer head coach Anthony Jacks said The Marble City Classic is a game talked about by everyone in Sylacauga.
“It goes back a long ways with a whole lot of people involved in it,” he said. “It’s a big game and it’s important to everybody. It’s a pride thing. It’s just a game that you always look forward to every year to be in.”
To locate the last time B.B. Comer defeated Sylacauga, one must also go back a number of years and find another low-scoring game. The Tigers last beat the Aggies was in 2000 in a 12-0 win.
“There’s no question, everybody knows they’ve won a bunch of times in a row,” Jacks said. “We try not to pay attention to that stuff. It’s just another game. It’s a rivalry game and it’s important—everybody knows that—but at the same time, they put their pants on the same way we do, so we’ve just got to go out there and play ball. I’ve tried to downplay the emotions of the game this week because the emotions are going to be there, but we can’t be overcome by them. We’ve got to play smart. We can’t get out there and try to win so bad that we can’t even stand up straight.”
If the last two games are any indication, it is unlikely to be another low-scoring affair in this year’s contest. Sylacauga beat B.B. Comer as the designated home team last season at Legion Stadium, 43-8. The last time B.B. Comer was the designated home team, they lost 48-8.
Jacks said preparing for the Aggies offense, seemingly simple on the surface but deceptively complex, is a difficult task.
“Ian Floyd and Erskin McKinney can really go,” he said. “(Hunter) Johns does a great job of reading the option and just managing their offense. He does everything, he can throw it and he can run it a little bit. They do a lot of different things.”
Floyd earned The Daily Home Player of the Week for his five-touchdown performance in a 35-0 win against Shelby County last week.
Griffith does not expect the blowout win trend to continue in the Marble City Classic, but expects a gritty, low-scoring, physical game like those from the Marble City Classic’s distant past.
“Comer’s group has improved,” Griffith said. “They were good last year and they have a majority of them back. They are big upfront; they have some good running backs. They keep the ball away from you; they are a real physical team. I think it is going to be an old-fashioned Marble City Classic. I think the town needs to turn out. I think everybody needs to come see the two schools that represent this town.”
While Comer is coming off a 36-0 win against Thorsby, Jacks knows Sylacauga presents a much stiffer challenge, as he believes they are one of the best-coached teams Comer will face all season.
“Coach (Matt) Griffith does a great job over there,” Jacks said. “I just think he gets a whole lot out of that program. Their staff does a very good job with them. It’s probably one of the most well-coached teams that we play. That’s what really separates him to me is how well-coached they are. They do everything right, they play hard, they’re tough and gritty.”
Griffith gave credit to the hard work of his players for their success this season.
“They have done exactly what we have asked them to do,” he said. “They are a good group of kids, they are hard-nosed kids and this is probably one of the hardest-working groups that I had come through here. They are not real fancy, but they just get the job done.”
While Sylacauga is likely considered the presumptive favorite, both teams have given the city something to talk about, as both have clinched playoff berths this season for the second consecutive year. Jacks said getting a win against Sylacauga would be a great way to carry momentum into the playoffs.
“The kids want to try to start playing well because it’s playoff time,” Jacks said. “We want to try to play well right here at the end of the year so we can hot and you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. We want to put our best foot forward right here and see what happens and carry that on in to the next week in the playoffs.”
Comer hosts Sylacauga at Legion Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.
LaVonte Young contributed to this report.