There’s plenty of tradition and history around Montgomery Bell Academy and Pearl-Cohn football.
The two powers meet head on Friday night in one of the top opening-season games in the Nashville area. Both are predicted to figure prominently in their league races.
Last year, the teams participated in the Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic, and MBA blew past the Firebirds. That gave MBA a sizeable lead in the all-time series against the North Nashville school – 15-0 against Pearl-Cohn and 20-3 against old Pearl High and Cohn High (35-3 overall).
Both teams ultimately qualified for the 2009 playoffs.
Two notable games between the two came early in the series.
• In their first matchup in 1966, Pearl came over to MBA in a well-hyped game.
It matched the star passing exploits of Joe Gilliam of Pearl (the late Gilliam later became an All-American at TSU, then played with the Pittsburgh Steelers) against a strong MBA defense, as well as a Bill Blair (later Alabama) led offense.
MBA’s defense harried Gilliam into the worst game of his high school career, forcing seven interceptions in a 53-0 victory. MBA went on and won the Clinic Bowl in an unbeaten season.
• In 1969, Pearl had one of its greatest teams, with four All-Nashville players led by lightning-fast back Walter Overton. The Tigers blew past the Big Red 34-8 and – similar to MBA three years earlier – went on and won the Clinic Bowl.
The last time Pearl beat MBA was 22-20 in 1982 before it became Pearl-Cohn. Before last year, the teams last met in 2000.
“We try to play a tough schedule,” Pearl-Cohn Coach Tony Brunetti, who may have the best of his five teams with the Firebirds, said. “Teams like an MBA, a BGA, a Ft. Campbell, teams that play disciplined football, teams that are good year in and year out.”
“Pearl-Cohn has excellent talent, are well-coached and are very difficult to defend,” MBA coach Daniel McGugin whose wife Jennifer had their second child last Saturday, Thomas Barton McGugin, said. “They’re a good team, very explosive.”
Pearl-Cohn won an impressive 14-0 Metro Jamboree victory over Hunters Lane last week, with DeAnthony Hall and Nick Hill scoring touchdowns.
Other top match-ups Friday include Overton at Ryan, Whites Creek at Goodpasture and a big showdown between rivals Maplewood and Hillsboro.
Montgomery Bell Academy, MBA football, Pearl-Cohn High School, Pearl-Cohn football, DeAnthony Hall, Nick Hill, Daniel McGugin, Tony Brunetti, Walter Overton, Joe Gilliam, Bill Blair
Ravenwood at Centennial
Whites Creek at Goodpasture
DCA at Mt. Juliet Christian
Davidson Academy at Cascade
Overton at Father Ryan
Pearl-Cohn at MBA
Maplewood at Hillsboro
Ft. Campbell, Ky., at CPA
Hunters Lane at Stratford
Chatt. Baylor at FRA
Kingsbury at Brentwood Ac.
LaVergne at Brentwood High
Pope JPII at Clarksville
Ezell-Harding at Eagleville
Siegel at Independence
David Lipscomb at Page
Antioch at Riverdale
Ensworth at Oakland
Hillwood at Nash. Christian
Clinic Bowl Kickoff Classic
Franklin at BGA, 7 p.m.