By Doug Gorman
There doesn't need to be any pre-game hype to help participants get ready for tonight's contest between Mt. Zion and Jonesboro.
The two schools are located just a short drive apart, making it a natural rivalry.
Throw in the fact that the two teams are also members of Region 2-AAAAA, and the Tara Stadium contest takes on even bigger importance.
If you don the uniform of the Mt. Zion Bulldogs there could also be an element of revenge.
A year ago, the Bulldogs gave up 17-first half points and fell to their county rivals 17-6.
That loss hasn't totally be erased from the memory banks of the Bulldogs.
"We haven't forgotten that," said Mt. Zion senior tailback Maurice Leggett. "They beat us on our homecoming."
That was one of the more difficult losses for the Bulldogs who missed out on the playoffs.
Jonesboro went on to make the playoffs.
This year both teams have shutout Morrow, but Jonesboro is struggling to find its offense and enters the game with a 1-2 record.
After losing to Lovejoy in the season opener, Mt. Zion is off to a 2-1 start with both victories coming against Region 2-AAAAA opponents.
In addition to beating Morrow, the Bulldogs also have a victory against Stockbridge.
Jonesboro enters the game with a 1-2 record. Like Mt. Zion, the squad lost to Lovejoy in a non-region game. The Cardinals were shutout against Houston County 24-0.
Although on paper, the Bulldogs could have the advantage this year, Mt. Zion head coach Jackie Green expects a close game.
"They have a good coaching staff and some good athletes. Their front four is going to be as good as any we see," Green said.
The Bulldogs come into the game with one of the best offense in the region having averaged nearly 280 yards per game.
Jonesboro is still trying to find its offense after averaging just 130.7 per game.
Leggett could be the main weapon in the Bulldogs' offense. The senior is rushing for 6.9 yards per carry and has scored three touchdowns.
Travon Hardy is generating nearly 3.8 yards per carry for the Cardinals.
Despite struggling to get its offense going, first-year Jonesboro coach Larry Mortonson sees potential in his team.
"Anytime you implement a new system and also have some inexperienced players out there, it's going to take a little time, hopefully we are going to keep making progress each week," he said.