In a year unlike any other, a long season of high school football is coming to a close. Though some teams have already played their final games of the season, three Tennessee Valley teams remain alive in their hunt for a state championship. After weeks of big plays and big hits, there’s only one game separating them from that title.
Up in Tennessee, this year marks the first time Fayetteville High School has made it to the 1A state finals and the district is planning accordingly.
Bill Hopkins, director of Fayetteville City Schools, said the plan is to either have remote learning or a day off for gameday against South Pittsburg on Friday.
“We’re going to make sure that every student, every teacher, everybody that’s connected to Fayetteville City Schools, has an opportunity to go to the game and participate,” he explained.
Out in the Shoals, Mars Hill football head coach Darrell Higgins will be making his 12th career state championship appearance when the Panthers take on Abbeville Friday.
Higgins has one win at the 2A level in three appearances with the Panthers. Still, he said that experience doesn’t change the way you feel heading into the biggest game of the year.
“It really doesn’t matter,” he said. “I guess it helps when you get out there and get going that you’ve been there and something you’ve done, but it’s always exciting, it always feels new, always feels like the first time to go and play for a state championship.”
His son, Peyton, is a running back for the team and said as a senior this is a great way to cap things off -- win or lose.
“Knowing that it’s your last week of practice, your last pregame walkthrough, your last bus ride with the team, it’s very special to me,” Peyton said.
Last but not least, the back-to-back 2A state champion Fyffe Red Devils will look to make it three in a row, this time in 3A, as they faceoff against Montgomery Catholic on Thursday.
Red Devil alum and lifelong Fyffe fan Jason Bethune said a 44-game winning streak and the team’s recent success give the community a lot to be proud of.
“All of our rivals used to say, you know, Fyffe will never win a state championship ever. Coach Benefield’s been here and now we’ve won four,” Bethune said. “I just can't put it in words how much it means to me, my family and the community. It’s just amazing.”