The battle Friday night is not only about football but also about food.

The Battle of the Bridge Food Drive is a canned food drive battle between the rival schools. Students have been working on it for weeks.

The coveted trophy is kept by the winning school for a year. Small engravings on the trophy base keep track of the record. The Battle of the Bridge Food Drive winner is determined by the most pounds of food per student collected.

"Each classroom tries to collect canned food and money, whatever you can donate,"
Brandon Hunt of Lenoir City High School said.

Colin Brennan of Loudon High School said, "Loudon is winning 9 to 4."

Game on.

Students at both schools have grown up knowing about the rivalry on the football field and beyond.

Colin recalled, "Over the summers before school started you would already hear talk about The Battle of the Bridge and just how Loudon was going to win or Lenoir City was going to win. And even for the food drive because it's that competitive."

Students can donate cans or cash. One dollar equals five pounds of food. There are no rules for how the schools collect the food and financial donations so incentives abound.

"Some teachers will say is we raise this much we'll have a party or something in our classroom or one of my teachers doubled whatever we donated as a class," Brandon said.

Caitie Johnson of Lenoir City High School said, "Our motive is to beat Loudon but also just to keep in mind that it's to help people."

The Good Samaritan Center receives all the food and money. The food drive covers their needs for 22 weeks.S

Faithlyn Jones of Loudon High School said, "There are some people who are really competitive about it but for me I feel like it's just important for everyone to come together and donate food because it is all for a good cause and I feel like we're all one big team because we still are in Loudon County so I feel like it's really important for us to just come together and donate as much food as we can to help families."

Helping the hungry really is the point of the food drive. But that doesn't mean the students can't indulge in just a little bit of smack talk.

"We're going to beat then this year," Caitie said.

Colin said, "That should not be a question. Loudon High School is going to win the food drive."

Brandon said, "I don't want to just beat them. I want to beat them bad."

The winner will be announced at the game.

Over the years the Battle of the Bridge Food Drive collection has surpassed one million pounds.