Playoff berth on the line for Dragons

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2003

PROCTORVILLE - A few weeks ago, the Fairland Dragons suffered back-to-back tough losses. Their chances of winning the Ohio Valley Conference were dashed and it looked like they were just playing out the season.

My, how things can change.

Heading into the last game of the season, the Fairland Dragons have an incentive. And what an incentive. A win over the River Valley Raiders will give the Dragons their second postseason playoff berth in school history.

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"We're real excited to know we control our own destiny," Fairland coach Bryan Ward said.

Fairland, 6-3, is coming off a big upset win over the Rock Hill Redmen. The Dragons upset the Redmen last year in week nine, but they lost 19-0 at River Valley the following week and closed the season 3-7.

Ward said having a playoff berth at their fingertips should give the Dragons a different mental approach.

"This is a huge help. Last year going into the final game we weren't even fighting for a .500 season. We'd beat Rock Hill the week before and felt like we had our big win," Ward said. "They put it on us last year. Hopefully we can bounce back from last week's high."

Even though Fairland has the incentive, Ward doesn't expect River Valley to roll over. The Raiders playoff hopes disappeared last week when they lost to South Point. Still, River Valley is 6-3 and enjoying the best season in its 11-year history.

"I just hope they don't come in here and want to ruin our season. I saw them in the preview and thought they were a pretty good team," Ward said.

The Raiders are led by Joey Graham who splits time between quarterback and running back. Ward said the Raiders are similar in size to Rock Hill but have a different style of play.

"They're kind of a big play team. They rely on Graham. We have to find Graham and control him. They run an offense that gives us problems," Ward said.

"Offensively, we have to get (fullback C.J.) Stewart established running the ball and hope that opens up the passing game."

Joining Stewart in the backfield is Michael Hill at quarterback and Tyler Bowman is the tailback. Wes Ripley and Adam Fuller share the tight end, Sam Huff is the split end and Chance Adkins the wingback.

Up front is Mack Burd at center, Zacc Russell the right guard and Matt Dawson on the left side, with Mike Scholl and Pat Pemberton the tackles. Mike Blatt also plays some at left tackle.

Defensively, Russell and Scholl are the tackles, Dawson, Pemberton, Ripley and Burd rotate at the ends, while Stewart and Deryk Neal are the inside linebackers. Adkins and Fuller play the outside linebacker spots.

The secondary has Corey Walls and Bowman at the corners while Huff is the safety.