In the sporting world, there are only a few games each year that can turn heads. Games that force everyone to stop what they’re doing and pay attention.
UNC and Duke share this rivalry on the hardwood, while the Red Sox and Yankees share it on the baseball diamond. Everyone loves watching Michigan and Ohio State battle it out, and I’m always willing to watch a game between the Gamecocks and Tigers.
In Pickens County, however, it’s Easley v. Pickens.
This annual matchup may be one of the biggest high school rivalries I have ever seen for quite a few reasons.
Like any good rivalry, Pickens and Easley are right in each other’s backyards. You see your rival at the grocery store, you share the same gas stations, and you sit beside each other at the DMV.
The cities of Easley and Pickens both have very loyal communities. Both believe that they have the best high school in the area, and they wouldn’t mind telling you.
The rivalry has even been featured in “The Dirty Thirty,” a book written by Tom Ward breaking down the top 30 rivalries in America.
The game has also even been a source of fundraising for a local charity. Last year, both schools raised more than $30,000 for Pickens County Meals on Wheels in an effort to help feed those in need around the area.
Friday night, we will get another installment.
Easley flexed its muscles on an overmatched Pickens squad last season, securing a 54-20 win over the Blue Flame. The Green Wave only had two losses last year, however, and ended its season in the second round of the playoffs against Goose Creek.
Last year may not have been close, but Pickens has had its fair share of wins over the years.
The Blue Flame has won three out of the four contests, each by margins of 10 points or more.
With Pickens coming off 3-8 season, and Easley showing success last year with an overall record of 11-2, this year’s game should be very intriguing. Pickens has had another year to grow and mature, while Easley lost starters in several key positions. Green Wave quarterback Zach Lappin graduated, along with defensive standout Brandaun Addison.
Pickens also lost a quarterback, but the Blue Flame used the offseason to correct timing on offense, and develop a nastier attitude on defense.
Chad Seaborn and his Pickens squad will be looking for redemption in 2012, and they are hoping that the road will begin with a win over Chad Smith and the Green Wave.
As in all rivalry games, one thing that won’t matter when kickoff comes this Friday at 8:00 p.m. is records. The successes and mistakes of last year will no longer matter when those blue and green jerseys take the field.
As Easley fans get set to make that seven-mile drive up the road to Pickens, both teams can find comfort in the fact that they are doing something that brings two passionate communities together.
It’s Easley v. Pickens.