Local sports fans would likely say, if asked, that DeKalb County is the most heated rival of the Cannon County High School football team.
It's been that way for decades, with scores of intense battles as evidence. The rivalry between the two gridiron foe is like Tennessee and Vanderbilt, Alabama and Auburn and Ohio State and Michigan.
However, in terms of distance, Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro is the closest rival on the Lions' schedule this year.
According to Google Maps, MTCS is 22.4 miles from CCHS. DCHS, in Smithville, is 23.7 miles.
There is another way MTCS is "closer" to CCHS than is DCHS. MTCS has an enrollment of 753. CCHS's enrollment is 742. DCHS's is 823.
MTCS and CCHS will battle Friday night at Fred Schwartz Field. The Lions come into the encounter seeking their first win following five losses to start the season. The Cougars are 2-3 on the season and coming off a win over Community.
After a 2009 season in which the Lions won the district title and advanced to the playoffs, many Lions fans may be wondering why the Lions have fallen on difficult times in 2010.
Well, there are several reasons. And note they are reasons, and not excuses, because none of those are needed.
The reasons have to do with youth, inexperience, injuries, defections, and lack of depth.
At the end of last season, Lee Cooper was expected to be the starting quarterback for the Lions this year. However, for family reasons, he decided to move to Georgia. Prior to an injury late in preseason practice, Brandon James was going to be the starting QB for the Lions.
The result of the loss of Cooper and the injury to James is that Heath Simons, who would have been a receiver this year, has had to play out of position at quarterback. While Simons has performed admirably, the Lions have been unable to generate much of an offense throughout the first half of the season.
So to put it simply, the Lions are undergoing a rebuilding process. Actually it started last season under then first-year head coach Joel Schrenk. And it may last another year or even two, as it usually takes from three to five years for a coach to build a program.
In the meantime, Lions fans will have to be patient and continue to support their team with all the passion and fervor they always do.