Twenty-nine years was a good run.
Murphy and Kadrian McRae (1,074 yards, 12 touchdowns) had annually played football with Swain County on the final Friday of the regular season since 1985.
Not any more.
Smoky Mountain Conference athletic directors voted in May 2014 to go to a rotating schedule for football and the effects on this rivalry will be felt Friday.
Kickoff between the Bulldogs (7-2, 3-1) and Maroon Devils (6-3, 4-0) is set for 7:30 p.m. in Bryson City.
McRae surpassed 1,000 yards a week ago and it was the second-highest output, point-wise, of the season for a Bulldogs offense that has used quarterbacks Dalton Kent (950 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions) and Joey Curry (446 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions) along with a receiving corps made up of Anthony Conners (34 receptions for 500 yards and seven touchdowns), Bryce Clapsaddle (22 receptions for 309 yards) and Matthew Lovingood (18 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns).
The defense is bolstered by Ozzy Corrales (12.0 tackles per game), Alex Seabolt (11.2), Cory Farmer (9.9), Adam Powell (8.8), Shannon Wilson (8.1) and Storm Worley (8.1).
Brody Sitton (588 yards, nine touchdowns) has been Swain County’s biggest offensive contributor in recent weeks, but the Maroon Devils can also move with the ball with Trent Wright (438 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions), Derek Fortner (334 yards, five touchdowns), Jordan Cody (277 rushing yards, 166 receiving yards and one touchdown). Ross Ensley (10.3 tackles per game) and Issiah Bradley (6.7) have been stellar, defensively.
Both programs are no strangers to success on a statewide level – Swain County has won seven NCHSAA championships, while Murphy has a half-dozen in its trophy case. The Maroon Devils lead this all-time series, 36-33.
– Follow the HS Huddle on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hshuddle or Twitter: www.twitter.com/acthshuddle