Coal Grove, Chesapeake battle for lead in OVC

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Coal Grove Hornets won more Ohio Valley Conference championships under Dave Lucas than any other league school.

But for the past six years, the Chesapeake Panthers have been the dominant team in the OVC and they have won six straight over the Hornets.

"They have a tradition going and that makes them tough to beat," said Lucas who returned to the Hornets helm this season after a five-year absence.

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The past meets the present Friday night as Coal Grove visits Chesapeake in a battle for first place in the OVC. Both teams enter the game 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the league.

Coal Grove has suffered through five straight losing seasons. Panthers coach Phil Davis said the Hornets success this season signifies a return to their old ways.

"They look like the Hornets," Davis said. "Physically and the fact they run the ball a lot makes them closer to Symmes Valley, and they're a lot like Wayne. They're kids are playing pretty good."

Chesapeake, which beat Symmes Valley 6-0 and lost to Wayne 22-8, utilizes a mix of running and passing to keep opponents off-balance. Davis said the Hornets just line up and run right at you.

And they just keep running.

"You can't let them get the ball and keep it 16 plays. If you do that, you're going to lose. I'm sure that's their game plan," Davis said.

Lucas said the Panthers balance will be a challenge for his team's defense.

"Some teams run the ball and some teams pass it like Fairland. When a team is one dimensional, it's easier to prepare. But Chesapeake can run or throw equally as well. That puts pressure on your defense," Lucas said.

The key for both teams will be eliminating turnovers and making stops on defense.

"At this time of the year, you don't look for them to change much and we're not going to change much," Davis said. "You're defense has to play solid and you have to be patient."

Not only do the two teams need a win to move closer to a league title, but a win is imperative toward earning a postseason playoff berth in Region 19 of Division V.

Davis said his concern is simply winning.

"Any more, league games are big for everybody," Davis said. "Most people in the league know anything can happen. Everyone thinks they have a shot. You can't take any game lightly."