By Steve Williams

The 2021 high school football season will jump right in with several rivalry games.

Six of the 13 opening matchups definitely fall into that category and a couple of others could turn into such type contests.

Karns at Hardin Valley tops the list as the Beavers and Hawks will square off for the first time since 2014.

Expect big turnouts and a lot of excitement also for the following matchups: Anderson County at Powell, Bearden at West, Fulton at Austin-East, Halls at Gibbs and Seymour at Gatlinburg-Pittman.

Two more – The King’s Academy at CAK and Lakeway Christian at Grace Christian – could be rivalries in the works. This year will be the first meeting in football between TKA and CAK. Lakeway Christian made its football debut last season and paid its dues in a 44-7 loss to GCA.

Karns defeated Hardin Valley 12-7 in their first meeting in 2009, but the Hawks won five years in a row after that and the two teams haven’t played since the Beavers lost 53-21 in 2014.

“Our kids are excited about it,” said Karns Head Coach Brad Taylor. “Obviously, because of geography, that makes it a natural rivalry.”

Hardin Valley is a Class 6A school and Karns is 5A. Taylor estimated that HVA has 500 to 600 more students in its enrollment.

“So they should be the favorite (to win) and that’s fine,” said Taylor, “but it’s a great opportunity for our kids and it’s neat just to get to play a school so close to us from a geographical-standpoint.

“Their coaching staff and our coaching staff are familiar with each other and they’re good guys. It should work out well.”

Mike Potter, Hardin Valley’s head coach, also is excited about the two programs playing again and said he hopes they continue the series after the current two-year contract ends.

Karns features junior running back De’Sean Bishop, who has a scholarship offer from UT.

Kickoff time for all games involving Knox County Schools this season is 7 p.m.

In other rivalries this week, Austin-East has a 29-24 edge in wins against Fulton over the years. Powell is 12-10 versus Anderson County. Halls leads the county series with Gibbs by a 39-6 margin. Bearden has a 39-17-1 record against West. Seymour and Gatlinburg-Pittman started playing each other again two years ago. The Eagles have a 22-18 upper hand in that series.

The first Rivalry Thursday TV game of the season will be South-Doyle at Oak Ridge and is a rematch of last season’s Class 5A state semifinals, which the Wildcats won 14-0.

Two games will be played Saturday night – Greeneville at Central and Bearden at West.


KOC KICK-OFF: Central defeated Farragut 13-0 in their 12-minute quarter of action Friday night at Neyland Stadium.

In other action, The King’s Academy shut out Austin-East 7-0, South-Doyle edged Halls 7-6, Powell and Bearden tied 7-7, Fulton rolled past Campbell County 13-0, Carter outscored Hardin Valley 14-7, Webb nipped Karns 7-6, and West and Gibbs battled to a scoreless tie.