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No Strangers: Bees and Tigers Square Off in Class 4A Second Round

To say Upperman and DeKalb County are familiar with each other on the football field might be an understatement. The two schools have met 44 times in football since 1963; in fact, DeKalb County has faced Upperman more than any other school since Smithville and Liberty high schools consolidated back in 1963. It’s also quite possible the series history precedes that year, as Upperman High School opened its doors four years earlier, in 1959. Currently, the two teams have faced off on the gridiron every season since 2001.

Over the course of those 44 meetings, the record has almost been even – the Tigers have won 22 times, the Bees 20, and they’ve tied twice (1966, 1968). So, it’s almost fitting the two schools meet this week in the second round of the Class 4A State Playoffs. Despite their long, familiar history with one another, Friday night’s game will mark the first time Upperman and DeKalb County have met in the postseason.

Upperman (10-1) took care of business in the first round last Friday night, with a 46-7 rout of Soddy-Daisy. Jaxson Rollins and Terrance Dedmon combined for 296 of the Bees’ 358 rushing yards on just 21 total carries, and scored all seven UHS touchdowns. The Upperman defense forced four total turnovers and allowed only 170 total yards, 75 of those coming in the Trojans’ first half scoring drive.

DeKalb County’s playoff opener wasn’t quite so easy, as the Tigers (7-4) found themselves facing a 21-7 first half deficit at East Hamilton, last Friday. DeKalb County cut the deficit to a single score on an Isaac Knowles touchdown run just before halftime, and the Tiger defense forced three Hurricane interceptions in the fourth quarter – including a pick-six by Nolan Gottlied – to seal a 35-21 come-from-behind win.

Upperman entered the playoffs as the top seed out of Region 4-4A, while DeKalb County came in as the number-three seed. In their regular season meeting back on October 15, the Bees scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to rally past the Tigers, 24-14. Upperman has won five straight against DeKalb County in the overall series, and six of the last seven. Overall, Upperman has won 22 consecutive games against Region opposition, a streak that dates back to the 2017 season. DeKalb County last beat Upperman during the 2016 season, and last won in Baxter during the 2012 regular season.

Upperman head coach Adam Caine discussed the rematch with DeKalb County and his thoughts on the importance of home field advantage in the playoffs during last Saturday’s edition of the High School Playbook:

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