North Side’s trip to Hardin County this week is the continuation of one of the more competitive series in rural West Tennessee high school football.
The Indians and Tigers have been in the same region or district for most of the past decade, but they maintained their annual series even in the years where they weren’t obligated to meet.
“The last two years when we were in [Class] 4A and they stayed in [Class 5A] we wanted to keep playing them because they’re always a good team with quality coaching that will make us better, and hopefully we do the same for them,” North Side head coach Tab Vowell said.
This year they are back in the same region as Hardin County dropped down to Class 4A. Both are very much in the running for not just playoff spots but also the region championship. Hardin County is tied with Chester County for first in the region as each team is undefeated. North Side is the one team right behind them with one loss.
“I tell you what, you have to respect what Hardin County has accomplished this year, being undefeated in this region and their non-region games were tough too,” Vowell said. “They’ve got some special players.
“Their quarterback [Cal Gobbell] is a special athlete who gets a lot of press, but their receiver [Nick Godwin] is a special player too and is a heck of a free safety. He can put some licks on some guys.”
North Side is the younger of the teams in this game, and the Indians have had their struggles, particularly in the fourth quarter of both games they’ve lost. But the team is playing a better brand of ball at this point as evidenced by the 39-0 win over Crockett County last week.
“We came out and did what we wanted to do to try to win the game,” Vowell said. “I think Crockett County had a bad night and didn’t play their best game, and we did a good job of capitalizing on the opportunities they gave us.”
The Tigers have one of the more consistent offenses in the area behind Gobbell’s play as a dual-threat quarterback, Godwin’s abilities as a receiver and other players like Tyree and Latrell Bumphus (no relation).
But North Side’s defense can be stout as well. The first-team defense for the Indians has given up a total of seven touchdowns while forcing nine turnovers. Four of those touchdowns came in a loss to Lexington.
“If we can maintain that level of play, I think we give ourselves a better chance of winning, but we’ve got to play our best and not make mistakes,” Vowell said. “Hardin County is a good team, and good teams will take advantage of your mistakes.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751
2014 – North Side 34, Hardin Co. 31
2013 – North Side 30, Hardin Co. 22
2012 – North Side 17, Hardin Co. 7
2011 – Hardin Co. 31, North Side 14
2010 – North Side 35, Hardin Co. 17
2009 – Hardin Co. 6, North Side 0