Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg-Pittman get together again

Nov. 01, 2013 @ 01:36 PM

They talked to Scott Meadows about Pigeon Forge’s rivalry with neighboring Gatlinburg-Pittman in the interview, before he was even hired as Tigers coach.

That’s how important success in this game is.

It’s a big one,” the Pigeon Forge coach said. “I’ve never coached in the game. You really don’t know until you’re actually in the game. There’s always a lot of talk and that sort of thing. Evidently it’s been pretty quiet this week. It’s a big game.”

He’ll learn just how big first-hand when the Highlanders (7-2) come to town tonight. The regular-season finale has a lot riding on it.

Both teams are likely playoff-bound but this game is about bragging rights. Perhaps no one understands that more than Lee Hammonds, who was an assistant at G-P before taking the head coaching job at Pigeon Forge and then returning to coach under his dad, Benny, a second time with the Highlanders. When his son was at Pigeon Forge, the elder Hammonds said he enjoyed a win over Lee and the Tigers more than any other team on the schedule.

”It’s bragging rights, man,” Lee Hammonds said. “For a year, you’ve got to live with it. When you win you get to brag for a year. If you lose, you have to deal with it for a year.”

The Tigers have been the ones stewing this year after a 29-20 loss last season. Pigeon Forge has won just two of 12 meetings dating back to 2001. 

It’s always been a big rivalry,” said the Tigers’ Devin Dykes. “There’s a bunch of trash talk going on between the groups. It’s just who’s going to show up Friday night.”

While Pigeon Forge has been dealing with injures — including one to Dykes, who didn’t play last week — the Tigers have won two straight. The Highlanders come into the game after a week off following a thrilling, 49-42 loss to Carter two weeks ago.

As good as that game was, this one was is way bigger for G-P tailback Michael Muszik.

”It’s the most exciting game of the season,” Muszik said. “I’m more pumped up for this than I was Carter, and they’re undefeated. ... We only get one chance a year, so this is our shot.”

It’s a game that’s always held big meaning, whether the two teams are winning or not. Tonight will be no different.

“Basically two proud communities going against each other,” Meadows said. “It’ll be fun.”