Over the first four years of the rivalry, which began in 1976, the teams each posted two wins and recorded one shutout over the other.
However, since that time, McEachern ran off 19 straight victories from 1980 to 2004, and has won five straight dating back to 2007 to lead the all-time series 26-4.
With relatively equal athletic talent pools to pull from in the cities of Austell and Powder Springs, how did McEachern become so dominant over time in its series against South Cobb?
Two attributes, facilities and funding, have played a large role in each school’s development. A former agricultural college, McEachern, unlike South Cobb, has had the benefit of financial donations, as well as an endowment from its founder and contributions from local citizens, to spur its growth over time in improved facilities and equipment in use by the Indians’ football team.
Another factor, and perhaps the simplest one, could come down to coaching.
Jimmy Dorsey, the long-time McEachern coach who helmed the program from 1984 to 2007, was a model of consistency for the Indians, and established the program as a state power under his tutelage. His system was tailored to meet the abilities of his players and his record bore that out, culminating in 23 winning campaigns from 1984 to 2006.
That kind of continuity hadn’t existed at South Cobb, which had four coaches during the same time frame Dorsey helmed the Indians.
“I don’t want to be a recruiting commercial for McEachern,” South Cobb coach Ed Koester said. “But obviously, coach Dorsey built that program into a winner and (current McEachern) coach (Kyle) Hockman came in continuing that legacy. Two different styles of offenses, and both have been utilized to great success.
“McEachern has a great student body, and there are expected expectations there now that losing isn’t much of an option. That’s the culture coach Dorsey created over there, and it’s what we’re trying to build here.”
Defeating McEachern tonight at Clay Stadium could go a long way towards establishing that culture at South Cobb. The ninth-ranked Eagles (5-0, 3-0) can take sole possession of the Region 4AAAAAA standings with a victory over the Indians (4-2, 4-0).
This is the first 5-0 start for South Cobb since 1999, and the third time in four seasons McEachern has started 4-0 in region play.
“It’s a big game in our region,” Hockman said. “Coach Koester has really established the program over there. He’s doing a heck of a job and deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done.
“This is the kind of game everybody wants to be a part of. A meaningful one with important stakes. It’s important for the schools, the players and the communities because it puts you on top of the region and in control of a tiebreaker. It will be challenging to play the game at their place, but we’re looking forward to it. It’s probably been a long while since McEachern and South Cobb played a game like this.”
Koester and his team are excited to welcome McEachern to Austell.
“I think the student body is really interested in this game,” he said. “There’s a camaraderie on campus, especially with the softball team finishing as runner-up in their region and doing well and hosting a playoff game for the first time. We’re all enjoying the success our teams are having this fall.”