Rivalry resumes: Kings Mountain visits Shelby as they two meet for the 99th time
By Richard Walker
It’s rare that a non-conference high school football game in the middle of an abbreviated season in which many teams are playing only conference games has gotten so much attention.
But the buildup for Saturday night’s 7:30 p.m. Kings Mountain at Shelby contest is part tradition, part rivalry and part recent success.
After all, you’re talking about two unbeaten teams who are separated by 12 miles meeting in one of the oldest rivalries in the state.
Both teams are 4-0 and the current series has been played every year since 1944.
This season, Kings Mountain shares first place in the Big South 3A Conference with unbeaten Crest – those two will meeet in an April 9 regular season finale at Kings Mountain – and Shelby is all alone atop the Southwestern 2A Conference.
Like with many series involving Shelby, the Golden Lions have a large advantage. The state’s winningest all-time program with 813 documented victories, Shelby has racked up 72 of them against Kings Mountain. The Mountaineers have won 19 times and there have been seven ties.
Kings Mountain won the last meeting in convincing fashion, 42-17 at John Gamble Stadium, and enter Saturday’s game with a 4-0 record in which the Mountaineers have outscored their opponents 119-7.
Shelby also is 4-0 but its been far more challenging. The Golden Lions, who have outscored their opponents 151-87, had to rally from behind to win at R-S Central and at home against Chase. Shelby also had to outlast Burns 20-18 last week in a game that wasn’t decided until the game’s final play.
Shelby also enters the game on a school-record 39-game winning streak at its Blanton Memorial Stadium. And Kings Mountain hasn’t won at Shelby since 1986.
Last year’s Kings Mountain win snapped an eight-game overall Shelby winning streak in the rivalry, which was tied for the longest Golden Lions’ winning streak in the matchup.
Over the years, coaches have gained legendary status based on how their teams have done in the rivalry that began in 1923 and has been played every season except 1924, 1925 and 1943.
Shelby High coaches and eventual Cleveland County Sports Hall of Famers Casey Morris (20-4-2), Jim Taylor (17-6) and Gerald Allen (14-3-4) have won the most games in the rivalry and current Appalachian State football assistant Lance Ware (8-0) has the best all-time record.
Kings Mountain has only three coaches with winning records in the series – Pete Moss (2-1), W.J. Fulkerson (1-0) and Clyde Canipe (1-0) – and current coach Greg Lloyd (3-10) and Dennis Hicks (3-11) have the most Mountaineers’ victories in the rivalry. Another Kings Mountain coach, Ron Massey, had the best record (2-2-1) for Mountaineers coached who guided their team for than three games in the series.
One of the most famous matchups in the rivalry is registered officially as a tie but an old tie-breaking method helped give Shelby a league title.
In 1963 at Kings Mountain’s old City Stadium, the teams tied 7-all before Shelby won 6-3 in an overtime period that would only be used if the teams tied for the conference title. Since they did, Shelby advanced to the state playoffs.
Predictably, many individual stars have shined in the rivalry, most notably two of the greatest running backs to ever play in Cleveland County’s rich high school football history.
In 1970, Marcus Mauney had his career-high of 216 yards rushing in a 41-14 victory; Mauney, who played collegiately for Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden at West Virginia, finished with 3,809 career rushing yards. Mauney was Cleveland County’s all-time leader until 1999 and was Shelby’s all-time rushing leader until 2005.
In 1979, Kevin Mack closed out his record-setting Kings Mountain career with 238 yards rushing in a 27-0 Mountaineers’ home victory. Mack finished that season with 1,585 yards rushing, a single-season record that stood until 1998.