Alcoa, Blount County (WVLT) – It’s the first football game and a big one for the Maryville High School Rebels since the ban on the Confederate flag at football games, but supporters say they will fly it at the game.
How are they able to fly their flag?
The game Friday is in Alcoa so the Maryville policy doesn’t apply and flag supporters say they’re gearing up for the home games.
Alcoa held it’s pep rally Friday in preparation for a Rebel invasion complete with Confederate flags as Alcoa officials say they do not have ban on them which Maryville School officials acknowledge.
"We go by that school or that facility’s policy and Alcoa, as far as I know, doesn’t have any restrictions on things that are brought into the stadium and so of coarse we’re not going to try to impose anything on our students that wouldn’t be enforced at that school,” says Dr. Ken Jarnagin, Maryville HS principal.
But that’s not to say the issue hasn’t been discussed between the schools prior to Friday’s matchup.
"We discussed maybe collecting flags at the gate that were on poles, on sticks, and then we decided they’ll take the flags in anyway that aren’t on poles or sticks and we feel it’s best at this time to let the battle be on the field between the two teams and not put our efforts into trying to enforce the flag rule,” says Tom Shamblin, Alcoa Schools Director.
Meanwhile, flag supporters say their main focus is Maryville’s policy which they say will be a future battle but support flying the flag Friday night.
"We say that nobody should be ashamed of being born in the south. Unfortunately the school board is ashamed of being born in the south and we’re ashamed they were born here. We wish they had been born up north as well,” says Gary Young, Confederate flag organizer.
But in this rivalry, expect to see an opposing flag as well.
"You know, you might see some shredded flags tonight. That’s not something we try to promote but that’s just in the spirit of the competition and that’s been going on for years between Alcoa and Maryville,” says Shamblin.
Young says they are still working on several options which include a referendum on the flag as well as litigation.