It just seems like a natural that schools like BGA and MBA should meet every year.
Similar in so many respects, small private schools with great football tradition and 11 state championships between them in TSSAA play (MBA six, BGA five), one would think they would have played more than the 30 times they have.
Heading into their Friday homecoming game at MBA, the series is tied 15-15. Prior to kickoff, MBA hosts its 65th annual spaghetti supper night at the school.
Before the TSSAA playoff system, which began in 1969, the schools had many more wire service or ratings championships, with MBA claiming eight and BGA two.
MBA’s last “unofficial’’ title came in 1968, when the Jeff Peeples-led Big Red had one of the great teams in school history in an overpowering 11-0 season. It was capped by a 35-7 win over Gallatin (which was 10-0) in the Clinic Bowl.
But, due to competing in different classes in Division II play recently, the schools haven’t met since 2004, the last of four straight games (2001-04) between the two. Prior to that, they hadn’t played since 1978.
There is one time the teams should have played, but didn’t, and it came in 1966.
BGA had, what many observers believe, the greatest team in school history, running roughshod over everyone and blasting Crossville 43-7 in the Tobacco Bowl. Finishing 11-0, BGA won both wire service polls, Litkenhaus Ratings and every postseason poll.
MBA rolled to a 9-0-1 record, with its only blemish coming in a 0-0 tie against Franklin on a rainy, muddy late September night. That game was one of seven shutouts the Big Red recorded. MBA went on to blank Litton 21-0 in the Clinic Bowl and allowed just 16 points the entire season.
Headline for the showdown would have been a classic showdown between all-state backs George Silvey (BGA) and Bill Blair (MBA), their respective team’s offensive leaders.
But, 43 years later, the two schools look to jockey for DII playoff positioning. MBA has bounced back from a two-game spin with two straight wins to go 4-2, while BGA is 2-4.
“The last time they (BGA) played us on our field in 2002, they beat us,’’ said Coach Daniel McGugin of a 25-23 Wildcat win, coming when MBA missed a very close-in field goal late. MBA won the last two meetings in 2003 (24-10) and 2004 (31-0) in Franklin.
“Both schools have a great deal of tradition. Coach (Tim) Johnson does a really good job with them, it should be a great game. They have two outstanding backs,’’ he said.
The game features two of the area’s top rushers in BGA’s Michael Moore and MBA’s Tyler Franks.
William Tanner is MBA’s leading receiver. But in the Big Red’s 27-24 win over McCallie last Friday, Tanner, a defensive back, made a game-saving play. With the score tied, Tanner raced over to make a tackle after a Tornado end caught a pass deep in MBA territory, Tanner yanked the ball away from the receiver and maintained possession as he hit the ground.
Following that, QB Van East directed and Tyler Franks ran, sparking an MBA drive to the MeCallie 17 where Andrew Fletcher booted through a 34-yard field goal with one second left. His 53-yard boot with 2:46 left had tied it 24-24.
“Andrew had his best game as a high school player (vs. McCallie). Every kickoff he had went into the end zone and he kicked two field goals, one of 53 yards and another which won the game,’’ said McGugin.