SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — The battle for the TopCat Trophy is one of North Alabama’s incredible rivalries, but the past few seasons it’s been one-sided with the Fort Payne Wildcats getting the victory over Scottsboro.

The 2023 edition of this rivalry matchup turned into a nail-biter, but Scottsboro came out on top 56-51; head coach Cris Bell and his Wildcats got their first victory over Fort Payne since 2018 and earned the Tyler Mann Team of the Week for week zero.

“We needed that. Coach Elmore and I competed against each other quite a few times back in Birmingham and I hadn’t been able to get one on him since we’ve been back here, so personally it was very gratifying but more so for the players and the community. I’m just glad to get that win it means a lot to a lot of folks,” Bell said.

“It kind of shows how much potential this team has,” Scottsboro junior quarterback Jake Jones said. “It’s been five years since we beat them… We have a lot of potential and we have to keep working but it feels good to finally get over that hump. We started out strong and coach put together a great game plan. We executed really well in the first half but started to slow down in the second half but in the end of the day we sealed the deal.”

“That last drive they had all the momentum and just that series of plays we had right there really just highlighted the growth we’ve had as a program,” Bell said. “Like I said, we had no momentum Fort Payne had it all at that point and our kids stepped up and really did what we had to do. We told them ‘right now we need win the game right here’ and they refused to yield right there and we needed that. You’ve got some confidence and we had some confidence going into that last drive that we’d get it done, but it’s just gratifying to see the kids start to believe and see them get out there and make the plays that they need to make when the time comes.”

Scottsboro will host North Jackson on Friday, September 1.