Symmes Valley looking to snap streak against Chesy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Which way will they go?

Two teams going in opposite directions could do an about face Friday night when the Chesapeake Panthers host the Symmes Valley Vikings.

Chesapeake comes into the game with two losses while Symmes Valley is unbeaten in two contests. But this is a familiar scene. The Panthers have been 0-2 heading into this game in each of the past two seasons.

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Vikings coach Rusty Webb isn't about to look at the Panthers record that includes losses to Portsmouth and Wayne, W.Va.

"Overall, Chesapeake has played some pretty stiff competition and their record is deceiving. From what I've seen on film, they're a solid football team," Webb said.

Panthers coach Phil Davis said his team has backed itself into a corner and can not afford another loss.

"This is a big game for us, but it's a big game for them," Davis said. "Given the history of the game, it would be a big game anyway. We really need a win."

In recent history, the Panthers have won each season since 1989. However, Chesapeake has been blessed with at least one breakaway running back who has made it difficult for the Vikings defense.

Although the Panthers lack the super speed back this season, Webb said they are making the big plays this season through the air. He pointed directly toward quarterback Caleb McComas and receivers Dustin O'Brien and Matt Whitmore.

"In year's past, they've had two or three guys who could take it all the way from anywhere on the field. They still have some good running backs and they block well or each other, but their quarterback does a good job running and throwing. He's much improved," Webb said.

Chesapeake isn't the only team with an impressive quarterback. Davis said Vikings signal caller Craig Neal does a good job directing the Vikings offense and halfback Cory Burcham is a major threat.

"All their running backs are back. They look good on the film I've got. Burcham is a nice back," Webb said. "Their quarterback runs the option well. They've always been able to throw some play action and they've been successful. But in the end, they just want to run it."

Webb said the Vikings will have to step up their game on both sides of the ball.

"They're a lot similar to what they've been the last few years. Their execution is good, and Neal has improved a lot over last year," Webb said. "They're really good on the offensive side, and their defense flows to the ball well. They get off their blocks well."

Joining Burcham and Neal in the backfield at Derek Carpenter and Justin Holland. Davis said the Vikings balance will be a key.

"They'll come at us with an option scheme and we have to play real disciplined," Davis said. "Defensively they're a little different. They're more of an even front. They've been fast than the people they've played. Their back are more mature and they're a little quicker than last season."