Panthers, Redmen offer contrasting styles

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some folks like a little variety. Others don't mind getting stuck in a rut.

So which is better?

Actually, there is no right answer. It's a matter preference. Unless it is a showdown game for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference between the Rock Hill Redmen and Chesapeake Panthers.

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The Redmen and Panthers meet at Chesapeake Friday night sporting 3-0 league records. Rock Hill is 7-1 thanks to a run-first, pass-as-an-after-thought offense compared to the balanced offense of the Panthers who are 5-3.

Fullback Kersten Harris has carried 90 times for 571 yards to lead the Panthers running game. Quarterback Caleb McComas has rushed for 260 yards and he's completed 40 of 93 passes for 542 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Jeffrey Thornburg has caught 20 passes for 333 yards and six touchdowns and Brent Ransbottom has seven receptions for 82 yards and two scores.

&#8220Offensively, they do a tremendous job spreading the ball around. Any one of their kids can gain yardage,” Redmen coach Todd Knipp said. &#8220The best way for us to stop them is to keep them off the field. We have to control the clock and keep them from making big plays.”

Rock Hill has used its three-back set of K.C. Christian, T.J. Blagg and Josh &#8220Deuce” Moore to get within a win of clinching at least a tie for the league title. Christian leads with 1,053 yards on 130 carries and 15 touchdowns. Blagg has rushed 99 times for 516 yards and six TDs, 52 points overall.

Panthers coach Phil Davis said knowing what's coming isn't that much of an advantage.

&#8220Rock Hill is pretty talented. The three guys they have running the ball are very effective and they have good speed,” Davis said. &#8220One thing everyone in the league has done is play to their strength. They didn't win seven games by accident.”

Chesapeake has won three straight OVC titles. During that span, the Panthers have not lost a league game.

Knipp said the Panthers' experience in big games and pressure games will be an advantage. Still, he insists his team won't be intimidated.

&#8220It's got to be an advantage for them because they've been in this position before, but our kids are excited about the opportunity. Their level of concentration has been up,” Knipp said.

Chesapeake has been under pressure for most of the season. The Panthers began the year 1-3 and need to win out to have a chance to make the Division V postseason playoffs.

&#8220Practice has been good the last four weeks. They're more focused and there's more concentration. They've had to. They understood what was at state. We had to win,” Davis said.

Rock Hill also needs to win its final two games to not only win the OVC but qualify for the Division IV playoffs.

&#8220We just try to keep telling them to play them one week at a time. The only thing we can worry about is Chesapeake,” Knipp said.

Last season, Chesapeake won 20-14 in overtime. The two teams run a similar offense in terms of alignment even if they take different avenues to score.

&#8220One advantage is we go against this offense every day, but they do, too. It's going to come down to which team makes the least amount of penalties and turnovers,” Knipp said.

&#8220We've been fortunate this year to use turnovers for us toward field position and scoring opportunities.”