Opening night of the 2017 high school football season will probably have an old-timey feel to fans of both the Trousdale County and Lebanon programs.
Officials at both schools agreed earlier this year to a two-year renewal of a football rivalry that dates back nearly a century, but has been on hold since 1970.
The teams will meet at Lebanon on Aug. 18, with the Blue Devils making a return trip to Trousdale County in 2018.
“At the end of last season, I knew part of bringing back some Yellow Jacket tradition, I needed to address the schedule. We needed to play rival opponents and games close to home,” said TCHS assistant principal Ben Johnson, who worked on the schedule while serving as interim coach in late 2016. “This was as much for our fans as much as anyone. I started contacting neighboring schools and some old rivals.
“After learning this would restore a series dating back from 1970, I contacted Lebanon’s AD and after a few weeks of communication, we were able to set the game.”
According to Lebanon Democrat sports editor Andy Reed, the Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils are believed to have begun their gridiron matchups in 1919, with Trousdale County coming out on top in a pair of games.
Research by Reed and by The Vidette shows that the two teams met most years up until 1954. Many of the results were not available, but both teams enjoyed their share of victories during that run, including Hartsville in 1930 (12-0), 1931 (14-13), 1936 (12-7) and 1949 (13-12). Lebanon won games in 1935 (25-6), 1938 (41-0), 1939 (6-0), 1943 (32-7) and 1945 (37-0).
Trousdale County and Lebanon last met in 1970, when the Yellow Jackets won 24-0 under the direction of Jim Satterfield.
“I felt Coach Satterfield had a great game plan and us old country boys executed it,” said Billy Linville, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for another for the Yellow Jackets in that 1970 game.
That win capped a four-year stretch in which the Yellow Jackets came out on top three times. Lebanon won 10-0 in 1967, while Trousdale won 14-7 in 1968 and 30-0 in 1969.
“I remember when my dad was coaching, he let me ride back on the bus when they won,” said Clint Satterfield, who later served as Yellow Jackets coach for 24 years. “Dad really emphasized the importance of beating your neighbors. They played Lebanon, Gallatin, Lafayette, Springfield. Those were the big games the Yellow Jackets needed to win.”
“We played them in 1968 (in Hartsville) when Lebanon was No. 2 in the state,” recalled Jerry Richmond, who has served as the ‘Voice of the Yellow Jackets’ since 1983 and has been part of the Hartsville radio broadcasts since 1975.
After the most recent TSSAA reclassification, Trousdale County is now competing in Class 2A while Lebanon will be in Class 6A, the largest classification. According to the TSSAA, Trousdale County has an enrollment of 388 while Lebanon is at 1,905 students.
“I think it’s great for both communities and both football programs for the large number of fans that could potentially turn out for the game this year and for the upcoming year at home in Hartsville,” Johnson said.
In 2013-14, Trousdale County played a home-and-home series with Gallatin, another old rivalry in which the two teams had not faced off since the 1960s. Each team won on its home field.
“It was obviously a big series in the day because of the closeness of the two communities. Since the classification system got put into effect, the two schools could not play each other anymore,” Richmond said. “It’s nice to see the rivalry renewed, if only for a short time.”
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or email@example.com.