By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Border battle rivalry continues to evolve
A fierce rivalry on the gridiron between the Tigers and Pioneers has rarely produced anger off the field. The 2010 captains are shown in pregame greeting each other. Friday is the 13th straight year DeKalb County and Warren County will meet and each have won six games in the series.

To hear it told now, the beginning of a heated border battle between Warren County and DeKalb County boiled down to two issues: money and losing streaks. Promises of standing-room-only crowds and sold-out concession stands intrigued both schools. One team grabbing a victory - the programs combined for nine wins from 2001-2004 - was a great motivator as well.
"When we looked at adding DeKalb County, we were on the longest losing streak in school history," recalls former Warren County coach Chris Madewell, who led the Pioneers from 2004-09. "There were two reasons to schedule them: to give us a chance to win and we knew it would be a big gate."
In 2005, the two schools agreed to a two-game series with the first game to be played at Nunley Stadium. Warren County won in a romp, 50-6, and proceeded to shut out the Tigers the next two years, 21-0 and 24-0.
DeKalb County coach Steve Trapp, who took over just two weeks before the 2005 opener, had little time to get a scope on the blooming series.
"I wasn't aware of the history. I had been a junior pro coach for six years and didn't even know how to properly warm up a team yet," said Trapp. "It was all a whirlwind. They won big the game before us, tore down the goalposts and had a ton of momentum. It was loud. I'm just glad they didn't open with us because we would've been the team they snapped the streak against."
Despite picking up three early wins, coach Madewell could see the program located just 26 miles away improving at a rapid pace.
"After the first year, I could tell a big change in their program. Coach Trapp obviously had his boys in the weight room," said Madewell. "I knew if coach Trapp stayed with the program, it was only going to get tougher."
Enter Hunter Poteete.
The Tigers entered the 2008 season with an offense that was going to air it out and use the talents of its junior quarterback to the fullest. Poteete was equally effective through the air and on the ground, making him a nightmare for opponents.
Poteete, in coordination with his All-State receiver Abram Edwards, helped the Tigers get a program-changing victory in 2008, 42-25.
The next year took the series to a whole new level. Both teams were coming off playoff berths and boasted two of the better offenses in the state. The showdown was won by Warren County 49-42 and is wildly considered by most to be the best game of  the, now, 12-year series.
Poteete accounted for all 459 yards of offense for the Tigers, including finding Edwards 12 times for 209 yards. The Pioneers opted to stay on the ground, pounding out over 300 yards behind big games by QB Brandon Steg and RB Caleb Northcutt. The shootout - still the highest scoring regulation game in Warren County history - came down to a last-minute, 81-yard touchdown pass caught by Michael Thrower.
"That was a wild game," said Thrower. "Both teams were exhausted. We all gave everything we had."
Warren County would go on to win again in 2010, seizing early control of the series with five wins in the first six meetings. The Tigers have swung the tide in recent years, winning five of the last six meetings - highlighted by a 50-0 drubbing in 2012.
As the series has blossomed into a full-fledged rivalry, both sides have developed fond memories.
"Growing up living on the DeKalb County - Warren County line, I had a great perspective on what the rivalry was like," said former Pioneer QB Christian Wilkinson, the starter during the Pioneers last victory in 2014. "It's odd going to Dollar General with my Warren County gear and seeing Tiger fans everywhere. The game in Smithville my junior year (2014) will always be my favorite game I ever played. It was such a rowdy atmosphere."
Edwards had similar thoughts about entering Nunley Stadium.
"The first time I played at Nunley Stadium was in middle school and it was the biggest high school stadium I had ever played in. It just had  a prime time feel," said Edwards.
Electric crowds, fanatic followers and great football also stood out to former Pioneer and Duke standout Cody Robinson.
"It reminds me of the Duke-UNC rivalry: close proximity, dislike from both sides, passionate fanbases and a year of bragging rights on the line," said Robinson. "I vividly remember playing in DeKalb County and it being standing room only. All Warren County players need to know the meaning of this game."
Steven Jennings, now playing in the Pittsburgh Pirates, remembers being introduced to the rivalry in 2013.
DeKalb County coach Steve Trapp, who has led the Tigers on the sidelines in all 12 meetings, has seen a lot of growth in the series and hopes it continues.
"We've grown so much over the last 13 years," said Trapp. "Coach Madewell was a great help. He gave me great advice, 'Stick with what you do and keep working.' We've tried to do that."
Friday's matchup at Nunley Stadium, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will break a 6-6 tie in the series history.

Year by Year scores
Dekalb County tigers 27  Warren county Pioneers 7
DeKalb County tigers 23   Warren county Pioneers 14
Warren County Pioneers 34  Dekalb county tigers 30
Dekalb county tigers 20  Warren county pioneers 7

Dekalb county tigers 50  Warren county pioneers 0
Dekalb county tigers 26  Warren county pioneers 7
Warren county pioneers 19  Dekalb county tigers 16
Warren county pioneers 49  Dekalb county tigers 42
dekalb county tigers 42  Warren county pioneers 25
Warren county pioneers 24  Dekalb county tigers 0
Warren county pioneers 21  Dekalb county tigers 0
Warren county pioneers 50  Dekalb county tigers 6

Individual top performers

1. Hunter Mullican, 2013 193 yards
2. Bradley Steg, 2008  134 yards
3. Josh Paz, 2005 103 yards
4. Bradley Steg, 2009 100 yards
5. Christian Wilkinson, 2012   98 yards

1. Bradley Steg, 2009 181 yards
2. Raleigh Woods, 2016 151 yards
3. Caleb Northcutt, 2009 145 yards
4. Bryson Lewis, 2012 131 yards
5. Rickie King, 2012 130 yards

1. Lee Carden, 2013   96 yards
2. Michael Thrower, 2009   82 yards
3. Drew Davidson, 2013   53 yards
4. Mark Harvey, 2008   46 yards
5. Adrian Lusk, 2014   45 yards


1. Hunter Mullican, 2011-13    269 yds
2. Bradley Steg, 2008-09    234 yds
3. Christian Wilkinson, 2012-14    193 yds
4. Josh Paz, 2005    103 yds
5. Isaiah Grayson, 2015 - Present      73 yds

1. Caleb Northcutt, 2007-10    303 yds
2. Bradley Steg, 2008-09    176 yds
3. Rickie King, 2012-15    172 yds
4. Raleigh Woods, 2013-16    155 yds
5. Bryson Lewis, 2011-14    149 yds

1. Lee Carden, 2010-13    145 yds
2. Matthew Poss, 2015-16    106 yds
3. D'Andre League, 2010-13      58 yds
4. Mitchell Ashford, 2009-12      56 yds
5. Drew Davidson, 2013      53 yds