The sweltering sun didn't stop an estimated 9,000 people from attending the Maryville vs. Alcoa football game Sunday afternoon.
It's a rivalry that always brings out the crowds and the trash talk, but this year it was amplified in a big way thanks to the national attention. The game was televised on ESPN 2.
"When the buses rolled through here...I felt like we were getting ready to play in the SEC Championship. We were cheering. We got goosebumps. It was larger than life,
said Alcoa fans, Mary Beth Warwick and Monique Maples.
"My son this morning was like, 'Do you realize how many people are going to be watching us?' I said, 'I hope you realize it too. It's a once in a life time event," Warwick said.
Warwick, Maples, and their families set up a tailgate fit for an SEC college football game. They planned for weeks and arrived at 6:00 a.m. to set up. Fans lined up and filled the stadium as early as 8:00 a.m.
But it's not just Alcoa fans that take it seriously. Maryville fans say the football team is a big part of their lives.
"We got our house right across the street from the school so we could walk to games. Two years ago we got engaged right here [the stadium]. We both went here and this is where we met. Everything just revolves around Maryville," said Mike Crowe, a Maryville fan.
Fans say ESPN's presence added to their enthusiasm even more than usual.
"On a scale of one to ten, we're like an infinity," said Cameron Lifford, a Maryville High student.
It was Maryville who scored the victory of 42-24 and bragging rights for the next year.
But both sides showed up in a big way, sharing with the rest of the country what this rivalry is all about.
An ESPN analyst says that since 1998, eleven of the past fourteen winners of the Maryville - Alcoa game go on to win the state championship.