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Symmes Valley, Chesapeake set to renew old rivalry

You've heard the old cliche' before when it comes to backyard rivalry games: Throw the records out the window.

Well, Symmes Valley Vikings coach Rusty Webb knows that, not only is it too early in the season to worry about records, the records are the least thing of importance when his team hosts the Chesapeake Panthers Friday.

Webb is concerned about the mental approach to the game. Even though the Vikings are 2-0 and the Panthers 0-2, Chesapeake owns a winning streak dating back to 1989.

"Chesapeake always seems to hit its stride against us. They always play with confidence against us," Webb said. "With the quality of opponents they've played, the record doesn't indicate how good they are. I think they're pretty good."

Chesapeake lost 22-12 last week to Wayne, W.Va., after falling 20-6 to Portsmouth in the opener. The Panthers were big underdogs in both games but kept the games close.

Coach Phil Davis said losing close games to good teams is no consolation. He still wants victories.

"We have to play better than last week. We're playing hard, but we're making too many mistakes. We didn't make as many mistakes last week as we did against Portsmouth, but we still made too many," said Davis.

Foremost on Davis' mind is the Symmes Valley backfield of quarterback Craig Neal and running backs Justin Holland, Cory Burcham, and Matt Owens, plus the veteran line led by Caleb Bland, Seth Colegrove and Heath Wiseman.

"(Neal) runs the option well and he has some speed. He's a different type of quarterback than last year (Drew Hunt)," Davis said. "We haven't been blocking very well. From what we've seen on film, they're pretty good. They run the option well and they're getting some long runs out of their young backs."

The option is a concern to Davis because it is an unusual offense that teams rarely play against.

"We haven't seen the option, and with the mistakes we've made, that's not good news," Davis said. "But the kids have been playing hard on defense. It kept us in the game last week. We gave up a lot of yards, but we didn't give up a lot of points."

Speaking of Chesapeake's

defense, Webb said the Panthers unit poses lots of problems for his offense.

"They swarm on defense. They have a lot of speed," Webb said.

If the Vikings are going to have a chance, Webb said his team's interior line on both sides of the ball will be the key.

"I think it will come down to line play. If our offensive line can control the line of scrimmage, we can win. If they don't, it's going to be a long night," Webb said.

"On the defensive side, we have to keep their backs pinned up. If they get loose, they have the speed and quickness to go all the way. We have to eliminate big plays.

Webb was impressed with the Panthers offensive backfield that includes Cody Hunt and Tyler Marcum at the wingbacks, Andy Stapleton at fullback and Justin Finley at quarterback.

"They have the big-play capabilities. Everyone knows Hunt can run, but Marcum is capable of making big plays. And their quarterback runs the team well," Webb said.