MARYVILLE (WATE) - The game is one of the biggest rivalries in high school football and it's right here in East Tennessee.
Maryville High School and Alcoa High School, both in Blount County, fought it out on the field Sunday afternoon in what many fans are calling the game of the year.
The rivalry between the teams has become so legendary, it has garnered national attention, airing live on ESPN2.
"I only know like one person that's not coming," Cameron Patterson, a Maryville High junior said.
Hours before kickoff, fans streamed through the gates and packed the stands at Maryville High School, basking in the competition-soaked atmosphere.
"If you're in Maryville, you can't help but be a football fan," said Tim Hiles, whose son plays in the Maryville High School band. "It's very much a part of the tradition. The fierce rivalry between Alcoa and Maryville started when they first played each other in 1927."
Over the years, each team has racked up their own state championships, but fans feel there is just something different about this game each year.
"It's very intense," Hiles said. "Usually we have about 10,000 people. This year, maybe 16,000," said Hiles.
For the fans, it has grown to far more than the actual football game. Churches in Blount County were asked to move their service times so members could attend the game.
"It's just really a big, big event for the community," Hiles said.
Students at Maryville say they have been gearing up all week to cheer on the Rebels.
"How big of a game is this? It's huge! Everybody is here," Ashley Jones said.
Word of the showdown has spread across the country. Not only was the game nationally televised, it was also named one of the Great American Rivalry Series games by the United States Marine Corps.
Alcoa freshman Alexys Denman says even though it's still the beginning of the season, this is definitely the game of the year.
"This game is huge. It means the world to them. It's like the championship for the NFL. It's big," Denman said.
She said social media has helped bump up the excitement.
"Oh, it's been insane," Denman said. "It's been the talk of everything. It's all over Facebook. It's all over everywhere."
Even though the teams are playing against each other, in a way, students feel they are coming together to represent the state of Tennessee.
"Our football teams are representing Tennessee," Denman said. "Our high school teams are representing Tennessee on ESPN. That's awesome."
The Rebels ended up taking the contest, 42-24. Maryville sits undefeated on the year at 2-0, while Alcoa drops to 1-1.