Wilson County’s 2013 high school football season will kick off even earlier than originally scheduled, and one local restaurant plans to make sure the competition is hot.
The first Zaxby’s Tongue Torch Challenge will kick things off Thursday at 6 p.m. between rivals Lebanon and Mt Juliet. Lebanon and Mt. Juliet Zaxby’s restaurants, which are usually "friendly competitors," will root for their respective teams.
Four coaches from each school will each get 20 Tongue Torch wings, and the team that finishes first or eats the most wings in 10 minutes will receive the flaming golden chicken trophy.
“Of course, bragging rights will be the most coveted prize of what is sure to become the kickoff event for the local high school football season,” said Bonnie Ryan, local franchise owner.
Zaxby's Lil Z mascot will be there cheering on both teams as he will serve as officiating judge who decides the winner.
The event will be part of the annual Lebanon High School tailgate fundraiser, which will be at Lebanon High School outside the football stadium.
Lebanon boosters will have Zaxby’s chicken finger sandwiches, various sides and a drink for sale for $7 per plate. The tailgate begins at 5 p.m., and plates will be sold until 6:45 p.m. or until they’re gone.
“Come support your favorite team, enjoy some great food and help us kick off the best high school football season yet,” Ryan said.
In addition to the challenge, Zaxby’s partnered with The Lebanon Democrat and Wilson County News this season to feature fan of the week. Each week at halftime during The Democrat’s selected game of the week, one fan will be selected to represent his or her school as the fan of the week.
“We are looking for the most spirited, creative and all-around fanatics of their schools upon which to bestow this coveted honor,” said Jared Felkins, The Democrat’s director of content. “Make sure to be on the lookout for our photographers at the games and cheer hard for your team this season.”
The fan of the week will be recognized at halftime and receive a Zaxby’s fan of the week T-shirt along with a coupon for a free chicken finger plate. Fans of the week will also be featured in The Democrat’s new special section, Sports Extra, in print each Saturday during football season, as well as online at lebanondemocrat.com.
At the end of the season, one fan of the week will be selected by readers at lebanondemocrat.com to be the Zaxby’s fan of the year. Online voting will begin at the end of the season.
The Democrat will also launch its new interactive web page, Wilson Football Live this season. It will feature scores, photos, videos, commentary and more as the games are played at lebanondemocrat.com/wfl.
“We understand no fan can make it to every Wilson County football game played each weekend, so we are bringing the games to the fans,” Felkins said. “Anyone can keep up with the action at all the games using a smartphone, tablet or computer. It’s easy to use, doesn’t require registration, and it’s free.”
During the games, Wilson Football Live allows comments from the fans and can be accessed through Twitter using the hashtags #wilsonfootballlive or #wfl. The Democrat staff will also regularly feature updates on the paper’s Twitter feed, @wilsonconews, and Facebook page, /thewilsoncountynews.
“But all the action will be at lebanondemocrat.com/wfl this season,” Felkins said. “You won’t want to miss the lively debate, commentary and especially the live updates from all the games.”