GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Though this week’s game will be the 16th meeting ever between Tusculum College and Mars Hill College on the gridiron, this year’s game will mean more than just another battle of the Mountain Border War. Saturday’s contest will be the first time the Pioneers and the Lions will be playing against each other as South Atlantic Conference brethren.
As in many classic rivalries, more than just bragging rights will be at stake. To the winner of this week’s game and future gridiron meetings goes “The Rock.” At the conference football meetings in July, Tusculum sports information director Dom Donnelly and Mars Hill SID Rick Baker came up with the idea after a discussion with sports writer Joe Byrd at the Greeneville Sun to create a traveling trophy concept between the two schools.
Donnelly and Baker met at the North Carolina-Tennessee state line and selected the 10-pound piece of granite from the mountain-side along the border. There is still debate between the two SID’s upon which side “The Rock” originated.
The trophy will be awarded to the winner of this week’s South Atlantic Conference game at Meares Stadium in Mars Hill, N.C. for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. Beginning next year, TC and Mars Hill are scheduled to meet in the final regular season contest for each school.
“The Rock” rivalry joins other heated games in South Atlantic Conference lore. One of the most noteworthy is the “Bronze Derby”, played for annually by Presbyterian College and Newberry College. Newberry also plays annually for the Bishop’s Trophy against Lenoir-Rhyne College.