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Playoff points awaiting winner

It’s showdown time already.

Thursday, September 09, 1999

It’s showdown time already. A couple of 2-0 teams – the Chesapeake Panthers and Symmes Valley Vikings – will collide in a heated contest Friday at Symmes Valley with playoff implications on the line.

With experts predicting good seasons for both teams, a lot of playoff points will benefit the winner as this backyard rivalry continues.

Last season’s game was a nail-biter as Chesapeake won 21-19, holding off a scoring threat by the Vikings as time was running out. Chesapeake went on to post an 8-2 record and qualified for the Division V playoffs. Symmes Valley finished 6-4 and did not make the playoffs.

While Chesapeake coach Phil Davis barely hints at the playoff importance of a win, he does amplify the Vikings talent despite the loss of several key linemen and backs.

"They had a veteran group of linemen last year, but this year’s group is getting the job done," said Davis. "They’re smaller but quicker and present a problem. Defensively, they’re very similar to last year. Offensively, they get off the ball well."

Symmes Valley coach Herb Conley has had the Vikings improving each season. He knows the game has playoff points waiting, but he sees an even more significant need to win.

"I feel like if we play our game and beat Chesapeake, we’ve turned the corner and that anyone we play the rest of year we can line up and feel like we can win the game. We just need confidence and that comes with winning," said Conley.

The Vikings are led by running back Brad Carpenter who has rushed 29 times for 236 yards. He has scored five touchdowns, one on a pass and another via an interception return.

However, the Vikings have a solid compliment of running backs in their wishbone attack including quarterback Noah Henson, fullback Adam Niece, and halfback Jared Leffingwell.

"They’re pretty good. They’re still run. run. run, but they’re capable of throwing the ball, " said Davis.

"Carpenter is as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s tough and runs hard all the time. He’s fast and strong. He’s real similar to (cx-Chesapeake running back Chris) Fizer," said Davis.

"He’s as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s tough. Runs hard and runs hard all the time. He’s fast and strong. He’s real similar to (Chesapeake’s Chris) Fizer. He makes people miss."

Chesapeake isn’t without its quality players. Conley said quarterback Andy Clark, end Robbie Isaacs, and running backs Jeremy Estep, Zeb Best, and Chris Dillon are all capable of making big plays.

"They always have a strong, powerful running team. Isaacs is a super athlete and their quarterback is a fine football player," said Conley. "They have good skilled people and they filled their positions they lost very well, especially in the offensive line."

With so much on the line and big wins needed, both teams will be looking for an edge.

"Turnovers and mistakes are the key. You don’t want to give the other team more opportunities than they need. Fumbles and interceptions could be big. And I think defense will be a key. It will come down to how well we defense them and how well they defense us," said Davis.

"They’ve got four good backs, and (tight end Jeremy) Copley is pretty good. And then they have (Anthony) Owens at linebacker."

Conley thinks the key for his team will simply be at what level it plays.

"If we’re mentally and physically ready, I feel very confident about this game," said Conley.

"We opened up and played well against Trimble. We really got after people and hit. That’s the best we’ve played since I’ve been here. But last week I was disappointed in our effort. Sometimes you take three steps forward and four steps back. We can’t do that this week. We have to see how well we react to a good team."

If the Vikings are to play better, it will take a strong defensive effort. Conley is also concerned with the Panthers defensive unit.

"We feel like they play good defense," Conley said. "They play sound and well as a unit, and that concerns me more than one or two individuals. One or two players can’t beat you. We know what we have to do, we just have to get out and do it."