Siegel principal Jason Bridgeman and his staff are prepared to roll out the carpet for fans tonight for what could be the largest crowd ever to see a football game at Stars Stadium.
Second-ranked Riverdale (4-0 overall, 1-0 in 7-AAA) plays at fourth-ranked Siegel (4-0, 1-0) at 7 p.m. today in what has been billed by many as the game of the year in Rutherford County.
It has taken a week of planning to make sure the school can handle a crowd that is expected to be in excess of 6,000 and could be closer to 8,000.
“For me, this is an opportunity to show our facility and our school,” said Bridgeman, who is in his first year as principal at Siegel High. “I’ve told our teachers that this is a great opportunity for people to get to know Siegel and see us as a piece of the Rutherford County community. We’re definitely excited.
“I joked with the coaches that I can roll out of bed every Friday if it’s this easy. But it definitely takes a lot of hard work. For us, we want people to be safe and have a good time and see the game. We want them to see our school spirit and facilities. But for me, I want to make sure the evening goes off well.”
Bridgeman said the school will open the gates to the football stadium at 5:15 p.m. today. Tickets have been on sale at the school since Wednesday and will be today until the end of the school day. Cost is $7.
Security has been nearly doubled with about 17 officers working the game. They will include no mounted patrolmen like seen at other schools in big games because of the lay out of the stadium.
Bridgeman said some portable bleachers from the softball field may be brought in for overflow seating. The school also plans to rope off parts of the track for spectators.
Parking also has been addressed. Siegel Middle principal Tom Delbridge has given the high school permission to have fans park at the middle school and use the back entrance to the stadium, which will be taking tickets. Northside Baptist Church, which is located beside Siegel High, will also be a place for parking.
“(The church) will have on their lights and it’s right across from the high school,” Bridgeman said. “Our full campus will be cleared. I’m sure they will park up Siegel road and in the grass. We’re probably the best location as far as getting in and out.”
Siegel is attempting to go 5-0 for the first time in school history. It marks the second straight year that the two teams have met with both teams undefeated.
“It’s a big ballgame,” Siegel coach Greg Wyant said. “I’m not going to deny that. Whoever wins this game is kind of sitting in the driver’s seat as far as the district is concerned.
“Both teams know that. It all boils down to when the ball is kicked off it’s a football game between the lines. It doesn’t change from that. It’s no different from last Friday night or next Friday night.”
Siegel and Riverdale both garner high-powered offenses. Siegel averages 47.8 points and 476.8 yards a game. Riverdale averages 44.8 points and 488.1 yards a game.
In North Rutherford County, La Vergne will attempt to defeat Smyrna for just the second time in school history. La Vergne (1-3, 0-1) plays Smyrna (0-4, 0-1) at 7 p.m. today at Robert L. Raikes Stadium.
“It’s a rivalry amongst our fans,” La Vergne coach Stanton Stevens said. “The kids care a lot about it.”
Smyrna’s first four opponents are all ranked in the Associated Press’ statewide polls in their respective state and class. The four schools are a combined 15-0.
Smyrna is full of inexperience this season after graduation hit the Bulldogs program hard. Smyrna coach Matt Williams moved up a pair of freshmen lineman prior to the Bulldogs’ loss to Olive Branch, Miss. this past week. And sophomore running back Kyle Smith rushed for 129 yards in the loss.
“It’s not something you want to do,” Williams said of moving up freshman. “It was just a situation where they were good enough to compete with the guys we had playing. They came in and did a good job as freshmen. They were composed. They blocked hard. It’s not something you want to do as a coach, but right now we’ve got to find people that give us the best chance to win.”
Cannon County is also searching for answers on offense. The Lions had less than 100 yards of offense in their shutout loss to Westmoreland in Week 3. It marked the second straight week the Lions have been shut out.
“It’s an execution thing,” Cannon County first-year coach Brent Bush said. “We’ve gotten away from so much of what we’ve done in the past. We are away from the spread. We have more of a ground game.
Bush will miss the game as he travels to Oregon to see the Tennessee Tech game against the Ducks on Saturday. Bush, who has retired from the military, is going to watch his sons, who play for Tech.
“I’m at a different stage in my life,” Bush said. “I missed a lot due to being in Iraq and Afghanistan. My wife is either going by herself, or with me. And she’s gone by herself for a lot of years.”