March 4, 2013

What's Going On: Rivalries are the gift that keeps on giving

This year, the spring prep season’s version of Christmas comes eight days early.

On March 16 of last year, I had my first experience watching Dalton High School’s and Southeast Whitfield’s boys soccer teams play. This year, fans like myself don’t have to wait as long to watch area soccer at its finest — and the Catamounts don’t have to wait as long to erase bad memories of last year.

The Raiders host their in-county rivals Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The game follows the girls contest, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

Dalton is ranked No. 1 in’s Class 4A coaches poll. Southeast is ranked No. 3. The Cats and Raiders are each 1-0 in Sub-region 7B-4A — also undefeated is Northwest Whitfield — and none of the three teams have lost.

But one will on Friday.

In some area rivalries, the ceiling at the state-wide level for each team is a bit lower. In soccer, there isn’t a ceiling, and that’s what makes this rivalry feel even bigger — history says Dalton and Southeast are state-title contenders year after year, and this year shouldn’t be much different.

Southeast reached Class 4A’s 2008 state title match, while Dalton shared Class 4A’s 2003 title with Heritage-Rockdale. Both the Cats and Raiders have made postseason victories a habit in recent years. Dalton has made the state playoffs each of the past 12 seasons, 15 of the last 16 and 16 of the past 18. Southeast earned its first playoffs berth 11 years ago and hasn’t missed the postseason since. The Raiders have advanced to the state quarterfinals four of the past five seasons, and both teams reached last year’s Class 3A quarterfinals.

Last year, it was Edgar Rodriguez’s tying goal for Southeast with just seconds left in regulation time, and the Raiders’ ensuing penalty kick victory on Harmon Field. Then it was Southeast’s win via penalties at home for the season sweep.

Who wins this time? No predictions from me. I’ll just say that I’m impatiently awaiting Christmas.

Here is a look at what else is going on in the local sports scene.

• The Dalton-Southeast girls game also follows two close ones from last season.

The Lady Cats won both games in 2012 by the same margin, 1-0. In the first one, it was a goal in the second overtime. In the second, it was Ale Salaises’ score with eight minutes left.

This season, Dalton is 2-2 overall and 1-1 in Sub-region 7B-4A play while Southeast is 1-0 both overall and in league play.

• On Tuesday, another potential rivalry between two local soccer teams plays for the first time.

North Murray hosts Coahulla Creek in a Region 5-3A matchup, with the girls starting at 5 p.m. and the boys right after. On the boys side, this one will affect the top of the region standings. The Colts are 2-1 in league play, while the Mountaineers are 2-0.

n On the diamond, Coahulla Creek and Northwest have a rematch Monday in Tunnel Hill after Friday night’s meeting at AT&T Park, home of the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Colts and Bruins are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Southeast plays at Murray County at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and Northwest hosts North Murray at the same time Friday.

• The first major meet for local track and field teams was delayed, but not for long.

The Northwest Invitational is scheduled for this Saturday after inclement weather kept it from happening this past Saturday. Dalton, Murray County, Northwest and Southeast all were scheduled to participate, Bruins coach Chad Brewer said last week.

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