From the Press Box

Inside the numbers of the Clash

By Chuck Fiebernitz | Oct 18, 2016
Photo by: Patrick Parton

What took place on the field at Memorial Stadium in Canton at Friday night’s 53rd County Clash between Pisgah and Tuscola was incredible.
Tuscola won the battle of the line of scrimmage in the first half and scored 17 points. Pisgah won the battle of the line of scrimmage in the second half and scored 17 points. And for the second consecutive year, the Black Bears and Mountaineers settled the rivalry in overtime.
I believe this football rivalry has solidified its spot as the best high school game in the state and one of the top five in the country.
Because what took place on the field and behind the scenes makes the 2016 game the greatest of all the 53 meetings.
It was a record-setting night for the County Clash, Pisgah High School and even the Canton-based radio station WPTL.
I talked with Pisgah athletic director David Pressley on Saturday and he informed me that they had ROTC personnel with clickers at every entrance trying to get a count of the number of people attending the game.
He was told after the Black Bears’ win it was  north of 13,000 people and that was the largest crowd to ever see a County Clash.
As of press time, the school “accountants” are still counting the money from the gate and the concession stand.
“That 13,000-plus number also includes pre-sold tickets, season ticket holders, guests and all the folks working the game. We should have a number by Thursday,” said Pressley.
So let’s go with an estimated 12,000 tickets sold at the gate at $7 and leave the other 1,000-plus as fans who already had tickets or were working the game. Just from the gate, Pisgah made approximately $84,000.
That’s a record.
Then let’s add in the record-setting half-and-half raffle of $39,292, which Pisgah deposited its share of an amazing $19,646. And not one of my $40 worth of tickets was even close. Oh well, maybe next year.
That brings the money made for Pisgah’s athletic department from the gate and half-and-half to approximately $103,646.
Now, let’s add in the concession.
“I was told we made more than $21,000 at the concession stand,” laughed Pressley.
I don’t blame Pressley at all for being happy. If I was the athletic director at Pisgah, I would also be one very happy camper as that brings the total for his athletic department from the gate, the half-and-half and the concession stands to approximately $124,646.
Pisgah isn’t the only one that set all-time records as the Canton-based radio station WPTL AM 920, who broadcast the 53rd County Clash live, had its largest listening audience ever.
WPTL had a combined 12,816 hits to its webpage and to its mobile application. In the radio business, it is safe to assume that there are a total of 2.5 listeners per hit, which means there was approximately 32,040 people listening to the 53rd County Clash worldwide.
“A total of 5,999 hits were made to, which is listening to the game via the desktop player,” said Tim Hodges, WPTL’s operation manager. “And a total of 6,817 were listening via the mobile apps. We had listeners from all over the world. It was an amazing night for the rivalry and the radio station.”
So if my calculator is working properly, 13,000-plus were at the game, approximatley 32,000 were listening to WPTL’s broadcast and that equals more than 45,000 watching or listening to the rivalry.
I received two  glowing remarks about the County Clash.
The first was an email sent by Carolina Preps  (, correspondent Paul Graham, who attended the County Clash for the first time.
“I have been to games in five states and saw some huge games but tonight was the greatest spectacle I’ve seen at a high school game ever, wrote Graham. “As a game alone, it could not have been better. But when you add in everything else, it was astounding. A complete tale of two halves. Tuscola dominated the first half and Pisgah returned the favor in the second half.”
“It couldn’t have ended any better. The game was vicious. Both teams were flying around on defense and busting heads, they do not hit like this down East.”
“I was amazed at how welcoming both coaches were during the game. (Brett) Chappell came across the field and talked for a while and even found me at halftime to talk. Coach (Tommy) Pursley was very nice, talked about the team before the game and was great on the sidelines.”
“Every fan I talked with was great and the atmosphere was electric along the fence. I can’t wait until next year.”
The other person was Chris Reddick, who is the production manager with the Eastern Tennessee-based Your High School Sports ( He came to the game with David Crompton and I.
“That was the most amazing night and atmosphere I’ve ever seen,” said Reddick after the game. “I don’t know if any high school rivalry anywhere can match what I just witnessed. There is something very special happening here in Haywood County. I can’t wait to tell the folks back in Tennessee about this rivalry.”
All the numbers, the records and what people from outside the county say about the County Clash is a testament to a fact we all have known for decades that Pisgah vs. Tuscola, or Tuscola vs. Pisgah, is one of the greatest high school football rivalries in the country — if not the greatest.