When Pearl-Cohn and Montgomery Bell Academy stage their opener in the Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic on Saturday, they will be adding to a great deal of prep history.
Both rich in football tradition, the teams will stage the 60th renewal of a game, which started out as a post-season bowl game that raised money for charity (and still does), with the inaugural game with East High and MBA playing at Vanderbilt in November 1950.
Although MBA holds a huge 34-3 edge in the series (14-0 against Pearl-Cohn and 20-3 against old Cohn and Pearl High, respectively), some of the games have been very exciting and went down to the final seconds.
“I never actually played against them (Pearl-Cohn) as a player, but I have some vivid memories of our games in the 1990s," MBA Coach Daniel McGugin said.
“One of those memories is when we beat them 23-22 during their state championship run in 1997 which was their only loss of the season. That was an amazing time, they had guys like John Henderson and Santonio Beard and we had guys like Hunter Hillenmeyer and Blake Sloan, and we beat them in both ’97 and ’98."
In ‘97, Pearl-Cohn won its last 14 games after the opening loss and captured the second of its two straight Class 4A state titles. MBA also got to the Division II final a week earlier, losing to rival Ryan.
The last time the teams have played was in 2000 (a 35-16 MBA win), well before fourth-year Pearl-Cohn Coach Tony Brunetti arrived at the school.
“Both schools have a huge amount of pride and tradition, which we will carry into this game," said Brunetti who will coach against MBA for the first time. “We’re excited to play in a game like this, with all its history, and it’s for a good cause."
Brunetti’s only memory of an MBA-Pearl-Cohn matchup came a few years ago when he was scouting a game for Cheatham County, “and MBA beat them on a really close call in the final minute of the game."
The game is expected to spotlight a duel between top QBs of Pearl-Cohn junior Juwuan Wilson and MBA senior Luke Colbert.
Some of the notable games through the years:
• 1966: MBA 53, Pearl 0: In the worst game of future TSU All-American Joe Gilliam’s high school career, with seven interceptions, MBA and Bill Blair rolled to victory.
• 1969: Pearl 34, MBA 8: Pearl was loaded with four all-city players, headed by lightning-fast back Walter Overton, along with end Porter Williams, guard Jack Crawford and back George French. It was by far Pearl’s biggest win of the 37-game series.
• 1982: Last time: The last time Pearl won was in 1982, 22-20 as old Pearl High in a season when MBA went 2-8. Pearl-Cohn, as a school, has yet to beat MBA (0-14).
Event coordinator Rick Regen said about 650 people attended the Kickoff Classic dinner Wednesday night at MBA, more than double last year’s event. Ex-Alabama coach Gene Stallings was guest speaker.
Ensworth-Oakland postponed: The Oakland at Ensworth opening game, scheduled for Thursday night, was postponed due to wet fields after heavy thunderstorms in the Nashville area. The game was rescheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. and will still be shown on network TV-30.
Nashville area high schools Week 0 games
FRA at Chattanooga Baylor
Riverdale at Antioch
Page at Lipscomb
Cascade at Davidson Acad.
Mt. Juliet Christian at DCA
Eagleville at Ezell-Harding
NCS at Hillwood
Stratford at Hunters Lane
Hillsboro at Maplewood
Father Ryan at Overton
Goodpasture at Whites Creek
CPA at Ft. Campbell, Ky.
BGA at Franklin
Clarksville at John Paul II
Brentwood at LaVergne
Independence at Siegel
Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic
Pearl-Cohn at MBA, 7 p.m.
Oakland at Ensworth, 7 p.m.