The 53rd County Clash is finally here

Undefeated Tuscola meets undefeated Pisgah tonight at Memorial Stadium
By Dennis Smathers | Oct 13, 2016
Photo by: Bill Killillay Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell.

Never in the 50 year history of the state’s biggest football rivalry have both Pisgah and Tuscola been undefeated coming into the game this late in the season.  
As victory after victory piled up for both teams this season, what began as whispers in back rooms and around water coolers of a dream match up have become louder and louder with each passing week.
Well, that dream matchup has now become a reality and all those whispers have been replaced by a wary anticipation of the proverbial “Game of the Century.”
The undefeated Mountaineers (7-0 3-0) travel the nine miles down the road to Pisgah Memorial Stadium in Canton to take on the undefeated Black Bears (7-0 3-0) in the 53rd County Clash and a key WNC Athletic Conference showdown.
Tuscola holds a slim 26-25-1 lead in the series but Pisgah has won the last three meetings, including last year’s 17-14 overtime victory.
On hand again will be the Great American Rivalry Series, who will stream the game online for the 10th consecutive year.  At stake is more than a year of county bragging rights. as tonight’s winner of this game will have the inside track to a WNCAC championship and a top playoff seed, while the loser could well be on the road come playoff time.
Tuscola Head Coach Tommy Pursley, who is 0-2 against Pisgah since he arrived ‘On the Hill,” is well aware that this is a big game in front of a huge crowd with a lot more riding on the outcome of this game than just county bragging rights.
“To me, the pressure on us is that we are 7-0 and want to be 8-0, no matter who we are playing, and adding to that pressure is that we are playing a pretty good team this week,” said Pursley. “The rivalry, big crowd and all that is just peripheral stuff. We are playing a good team and trying to preserve that no loss run.
“My perspective on this rivalry has changed from this standpoint. I do recognize and appreciate the rivalry and understand. But people have to remember I am not a fan, I am not a parent, I am a coach and we are trying to get our kids ready to play every week. So, from that standpoint in my mind, nothing has changed.
“As for tonight’s game being the Game of the Century, I’ve been in three state championship games, four state semifinal games, plus this century is only 16 years old.  This is not to sound like I am bragging,  but I have been in some big games. The real pressure games are the state semifinal games, where if you lose you are done. I’ve been lucky enough to win three of them, but the beauty of this one game is win or lose, we get to play again next week and that’s a good thing.”
Tuscola can justify its 7-0 record as the Mountaineers come into the 53rd County Clash leading the state in scoring with a 51.7 points per game average, while their Black Shirt defense allows 14.3 points per game.
The overall record for Tuscola’s seven opponents is 26-24.
Pisgah is undefeated for a reason as its offense is scoring 33.9 points per game and the Black Bears’ stingy Milltown defense gives up just 8.3 points per game and ranks eighth in the state in scoring defense.
The overall record for Pisgah’s seven opponents is 13-38.
So what does all this mean? Not much, really.   In this rivalry game anything can, has and will happen and for more than a half century, Tuscola and Pisgah fans can attest to that.  
The coaches will have a solid game plan and try to put their players in the best position to win. After that,  it’s up to the players on the field to make the plays. History has shown that a kick here, a fumble there, or a mental mistake is often all that is needed to decide the outcome in such an intense rivalry.   
The squad that can best manage to keep their composure will likely leave Pisgah Memorial Stadium as the winner.
Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. as the Pisgah Athletic Department is preparing for the largest crowd to ever watch a County Clash.

Several fans weighted in on their prediction of the 53rd County Clash

Rhonda Byrd
Pisgah 21, Tuscola 20

Dennis Smathers
Tuscola 21, Pisgah 20

Tuscola 49, Pisgah 14

David Crompton
Tuscola 35, Pisgah 28

Mike Jaynes
Pisgah 28, Tuscola 27

Tommy Finger
Tuscola 31, Pisgah 18

Jennifer Allen

Pisgah 28, Tuscola 27

Mike Munoz
Tuscola 47, Pisgah 35

Thomas Tatham
Pisgah 20, Tuscola 10

David Singleton
Pisgah 31, Tuscola 21

Matt McNeil
Tuscola 50, Pisgah 35

Kimberly Ann Hyman
Pisgah 28, Tuscola 14

Matt Perusi
Tuscola 31, Pisgah 24

Christian Jones
Pisgah 28, Tuscola 21

Travis Tatham
Pisgah 23, Tuscola 20

Jordan Pitts
Pisgah 35, Tuscola 28

Bill Killillay
Pisgah 21, Tuscola 20

Zach Colburn

Tuscola 35, Pisgah 21

Stan Arrington
Tuscola 38, Pisgah 35

Curtis Hyman
Pisgah 20, Tuscola 17

Keri Hill

Pisgah 17, Tuscola 14

Elizabeth Yamasaki

Tuscola 44, Pisgah 17

Teresa Jones
Tuscola 38, Pisgah 28

Chad Upton

Pisgah 24, Tuscola 23

Daniel Bacon
Tuscola 36, Pisgah 27

Brian Berman
Tuscola 49, Pisgah 24

Diana Gates
Tuscola 35, Pisgah 20

Ben Jones
Pisgah 24, Tuscola 21

David Burnette
Pisgah 35, Tuscola 31

Jamie Smith
Pisgah 7, Tuscola 6

Sherry Swaim
Tuscola 34, Pisgah 16

Tristan Collins
Pisgah 28, Tuscola 20

Karma Valentine Shuford
Pisgah 10, Tuscola 7

Scott Moore
Pisgah 35, Tuscola 14

Adam Hambleton
Tuscola 43, Pisgah 17

Kevin Fiebernitz

Pisgah 21, Tuscola 17

Rachel Robles
Tuscola 24, Pisgah 21 (OT)

Matt DeLozier
Pisgah 30, Tuscola 28

Brad Allen
Pisgah 24, Tuscola 21