Randy Smith: Tigers Versus Pirates - All New Meaning

Friday, October 13, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
It's been a while since South Pittsburg's annual meeting with cross county rival Whitwell meant as much as the game tonight does. The two unbeaten Class A squads play at South Pittsburg this evening for the Region title. The two teams are also ranked in the top four in most high school polls, with the Pirates at number one and the Tigers ranked third or fourth depending upon which poll you look at. South Pittsburg has been there many times before but it's been a long time since Whitwell has been unbeaten this far into a regular season.

All those many years that South Pittsburg was ranked and playing for state championships, Whitwell was just trying to forge out a winning season and most of the time the Tigers came up short. There were a few seasons that saw the Tigers win one or even two games with an occasional winless season. Players had to listen to disrespect from both Jasper and South Pittsburg, the other two towns in Marion County. Oh, there was the 1991 season; the one that Whitwell fans fondly look back on. The Tigers that season made it all the way to the state semi-finals before losing to Franklin Road Academy. I had the privilege of doing the Tigers games on radio that season and they were good that year, really good. But seasons like that have been few and far between in Whitwell. 

Then came the 2017 season. First year head coach Randall Bouldin took over with a good group of experienced players and the Tigers have blown through the first seven games unbeaten. A win over South Pittsburg would create more excitement than folks in Whitwell could remember.

The Pirates lead the all-time series with the Tigers 70-12-2, with Whitwell winning the very first meeting back in 1930 by a score of 13-0. Since 2000, South Pittsburg has won by scores of 72-36, 63-7 and 82-0. So you can see why this game is so important to Whitwell. It's not every year the Tigers have a team with enough talent to compete with the Pirates, but in 2017 they do. Whitwell has given up a mere 4.3 points per game this year, and among those seven wins is a win over perennial state power Trousdale County last week. 
If Whitwell wins over the Pirates, the celebration will last until the wee hours of the morning. If South Pittsburg comes out on top, the sun will rise in Whitwell on Saturday morning and the Tigers will begin to prepare for their next opponent. The Tigers will also prepare for what would hopefully be a long playoff run, which could include a rematch with South Pittsburg. 
That's why this game is so important.

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.

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