HALLS (WVLT) -- When Halls and Maryville kick off at Shields Stadium Friday, there will be more at stake than usual. The winner of the game between the Red Devils (6-2) and Rebels (8-0) will take over first place in Region 3-4A, which Maryville has won every season this decade.
Halls is excited about the opportunity to break new ground.
"Noboby's really had the chance we've had in a long time, so it feels awesome," said senior defensive lineman Reese Kelley.
Coach Kevin Julian agrees.
"When I first got here, at that point we were fighting for region championships and home playoffs games, and that's a great feeling to get back there," he said.
They're there, all right. One problem: the Rebels haven't lost in 53 games, and they've having lost a region game since 2000. The culprit way back then? The Halls Red Devils.
"They turned the ball over four or six times there, and I think they may have to help us a little bit [Friday]," Julian said.
The Red Devils know it will take a physical effort to beat the Rebels.
"It takes a hard-nosed team, to just step up and hit them right in the mouth, from the beginning, stick with it," Kelley said.
Even a loss to Maryville isn't the end of the world. If Halls beats South-Doyle the following week, it locks up second place in the region and ensures a first-round home game in the 4A playoffs, a privilege the team has earned thanks to tenacity and heart.
"They're fighters, and they're the kind of kids that, if you got in a fight, you'd want with you," Julian said.
"We're a very close team, hardly ever any disagreements among us," running back Kevin Waggoner added. "We enjoy coming out here and playing against each other, just hitting each other and helping them up."
The game kicks off Friday at 7:30 at Maryville.