10 Upper Cumberland Football Games We’re Looking Forward to in 2023

By Michael Lindsay


High school football in the Upper Cumberland kicks off in 11 weeks, and with another season comes a plethora of highly-anticipated football games across the area.

Ten of the biggest are listed in chronological order below:


1. Smith County at Gordonsville (Thursday, Aug. 17)

The 2023 season kicks off with a massive non-region rivalry on the west side of the Upper Cumberland as Smith County heads south to face Gordonsville. The Owls won last season’s opener against the Tigers, 27-7, and both teams return plenty of talent from their 2022 campaigns.


2. Stone Memorial at Cookeville (Friday, Aug. 18)

A week-one statement is on the line for the winner as Class 4A’s Stone Memorial Panthers travel to the Class 6A Cookeville Cavaliers. The Panthers are looking to take the next step following last season’s 10-2 effort while Cookeville is trying to build following a 3-8 season under head coach Taylor Hennigan, and a win over a 10-win program would go a long way.


3. Upperman at Macon County (Friday, Sept. 1)

Upperman and Macon County open Region 4-4A play in Lafayette, where the Bees won a 28-14 thriller last season. Macon County returns do-it-all Class 4A Mr. Football finalist Gabe Borders following an 8-3 campaign in 2022, while Upperman is looking to return to the top of Region 4-4A after finishing second in 2022. A quality win to start region play will be key for either program.


4. Cookeville at White County (Friday, Sept. 1)

The matchup speaks for itself.

One of the Upper Cumberland’s fiercest rivalries heads to Sparta this season as the Cookeville Cavaliers travel to White County. The Warriors won at Cookeville last season in one of the most electric games on the UC in years, 59-54. A win for either program would serve as a confidence booster as they each play 4 consecutive region games afterwards.


5. Stone Memorial at White County (Friday, Sept. 8)

White County’s welcome to Region 4-4A play comes Friday, Sept. 8 as Stone Memorial visits Sparta for the Warriors’ region opener. The teams met in the preseason in 2022, but haven’t faced off in the regular season since 2014.


6. Smith County at Macon County (Friday, Sept. 8)

Two Upper Cumberland heavyweights meet week 4 as Smith County heads north to Lafayette for a non-region showdown with Macon County. Smith County defeated Macon 28-20 last season in Carthage in a contest between two teams with a combined 19-5 record.


7. White County at Upperman (Friday, Sept. 15)

A long-anticipated matchup comes to fruition in 2023 as the White County Warriors travel to Baxter to face the Upperman Bees. The programs haven’t met since the turn of the century, but White County move to Class 4A pits two of the Upper Cumberland’s best teams from last season against each other. White County has plenty to replace, led by 2022 Mr. Football finalist running back Malaki Dowell, while Upperman is eyeing a return to the top of Region 4-4A.


8. Upperman at Smith County (Friday, Sept. 29)

Two of the Upper Cumberland’s best will meet in a late-season non-region showdown as Upperman travels to Carthage to face the Smith County Owls. Upperman went 9-3 in 2022 while Smith County made the Class 3A quarterfinals with an 11-2 overall record.


9. Stone Memorial at Upperman (Friday, Oct. 20)

The defending Region 4-4A champion Stone Memorial Panthers hit the road to Baxter in week 10 for a showdown with the 2021 champs, Upperman. Stone Memorial will be fresh off a bye week for their trip to The Hive, where Upperman is looking to avenge last season’s 15-14 loss to the Panthers.


10. Clay County at Gordonsville (Thursday, Oct. 26)

The Region 4-1A championship has been determined in week 11 the past two seasons, and 2023 looks to be no different as the Gordonsville Tigers host Clay County in the regular season finale. A goal-line stand determined their 2022 regular season meeting as Clay County edged out a 27-20 victory before the Bulldogs ran away with a 41-6 state quarterfinal victory 3 weeks later.