Hornets, Redmen will keep it on the ground

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

It's time to grind it out.

Two teams who disdain the pass will collide in their annual rivalry as the Coal Grove Hornets host the Rock Hill Redmen Friday in an Ohio Valley Conference game to end the regular season.

Coal Grove relies on the tandem of Justin Hyland and Bryan Massie while the Redmen run the ball with K.C. Christian and T.J. Blagg.

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"It should be pretty quick," said Redmen coach Todd Knipp joking about how fast the game will be played between the two running teams.

"Both of us like to run the ball so it's going to be a smashmouth game. They have a big offensive line and their backs run hard. In some ways, their backs are like ours."

Coal Grove is coming off games against Fairland, Chesapeake and South Point, all teams who like to put the ball in the air. Hornets coach Dave Lucas said this week will be a drastic change of pace.

Christian has 1,164 yards on 113 carries with 14 touchdowns. Blagg has 807 yards on 153 rushes with eight TDs.

"They have two good running backs and their fullback (David Stevens) is a good back. They like to run the ball, so it'll be different defensing them after the last few weeks," Lucas said.

"But no matter how good the backs are, the line blocking is key. If you don't block, then you're not going to go anywhere. They're real big. You don't move them. They just sit there."

Hyland comes into the game with a workhorse 238 carries for 1,650 yards and 17 touchdowns. Knipp said the Redmen must stop the junior tailback. Massie has 77 carries for 467 yards and six touchdowns.

"He's put some numbers up. He's a big strong kid. We'll have to gang tackle him," Knipp said. "But their offensive line isn't bad. They get off the ball and execute the trap game really well. We have to tackle on defense and execute on offense and take care of the ball."

Coal Grove is 6-3 and 3-1 in the OVC while Rock Hill is 3-6 and 2-2. But instead of records, the focus will be on the rivalry.

"It's a rivalry, no question. Always has been," Lucas said. "This is family versus family. Everyone works together or knows each other."

Knipp, who has both played and coached in the rivalry, agreed.

"It's the one game our kids get pretty fired up for. People use the old saying that you can throw the records out the window and that's pretty much the truth. It'll be fun," Knipp said.

Also in the OVC, Chesapeake goes for its third straight outright league title and 16th straight conference win as the Panthers host River Valley.

South Point visits Fairland where footballs should fill the air. Both Pointers sophomore quarterback Chris Smith and Dragons senior quarterback Michael Hill have thrown for 2,000 yards.