Panthers face another showdown with Redmen

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

There was a showdown for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference last week and the Chesapeake Panthers beat the Coal Grove Hornets.

Don't look now, but the Panthers have another showdown.

Chesapeake leads the OVC with a 3-0 record, but right behind is not only Coal Grove at 2-1, but the Rock Hill Redmen at 2-1. The Panthers travel to Rock Hill Friday with an outright title or possible share of the title at stake.

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The Redmen can throw the league race into a possible three-way tie with a win while the Panthers can take a giant step toward a third straight outright championship with a victory.

Rock Hill is 3-5 overall and its only loss was 20-14 at South Point in their first league game. The Panthers routed South Point 55-0 two weeks ago.

"We did a lot of bad things and they capitalized. (The loss) looms large now," Knipp said.

Chesapeake coach Phil Davis said there is a big difference between the Redmen now and then.

"They look like they're playing pretty well right now. They haven't allowed many points in their conference games. Their defense is playing pretty solid and they're big and strong," Davis said.

After the loss at South Point, the Redmen beat River Valley 28-7 and Fairland 40-0.

"We just got back to basics," Knipp said. "The offensive line is starting to jell. Our skilled kids are starting to make plays offensively and defensively."

Davis said the Redmen remind him a lot of Wayne, a team that beat the Panthers 22-8 back in week two. He said the Panthers must stop the running tandem of K.C. Christian and T.J. Blagg.

"They run the ball a lot more like Wayne. The offense is similar. Both of those guys run pretty hard. Christian has pretty good size and he has ran off and left people a few times lately," Davis said.

Chesapeake is 6-2 after losing its first two games. If the Panthers win their final two games, they will not only win the OVC outright but will probably qualify for the Division V playoffs. But Davis is concerned because the Redmen are on a winning streak.

"We keep catching people on winning streaks," Davis said. "We just have to go play well again. Defense might be the thing that determines the outcome. The past several games their backs have popped some long runs."

The Rock Hill defense will not only have to contend with a group of running backs, but a passing game featuring Dustin O'Brien and Matt Whitmore that has generated big plays.

"We're going to have to play good, sound defense. They can run or throw, so we have to be prepared all the time. Offensively, we have to control the football and not have any turnovers," Knipp said. "They're a lot different from the teams they've had. His two wideouts are pretty good athletes. They can go up and get the ball."