Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tolsia, W.Va. at Rock Hill

Mirror, mirror, on the field, which team will inflict their will?

The Rock Hill Redmen and Tolsia Rebels have more in common than good teams.

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“We run similar offenses. They’re almost the exact same,” Rock Hill coach Todd Knipp said. “We’ll see who can out-execute the other.”

The Redmen will have to contend with the Rebels’ size, too.

The fullback is Justin Copley (6-0, 195) and the tailback is Bill Evans (6-3, 217). Tight end Kenneth Muncy (6-4, 220) doubles as the free safety. One wingback is Brandon Stacy (6-0, 180).

Up front are Michael Wechsler (6-1, 235) and Terry Moore (6-5, 255).

“They’re solid offensively and physical on defense,” Knipp said. “Evans is a pretty good runner and Copley runs harder than all of them. He’s not bad. They’re a solid football team.”

Lawrence County, Ky. a Coal Grove

In this case, size matters.

The Lawrence County Bulldogs lost some key players from last year’s 4-7 team, but big linemen will hold the key this season.

The top player for the Bulldogs is guard/nose guard Kyle Carter, a Division I prospect who tips the scales at 6-foot-3, 278 pounds. His running mate at tackle is Cody Patrick, 6-7, 233.

The top running backs are Morgan Roberts (5-9, 166) and Coty Roberts (5-7, 180). Mark Fitzpatrick (5-11, 147) is the quarterback following Cory Humphrey’s transfer to Paintsville.

The Bulldogs lost their opener 43-26 to Sheldon Clark last week while Coal Grove was playing a two-quarter league preview.

Chesapeake at Portsmouth

Just like in the movie “El Dorado” when John Wayne said to Robert Mitchum, “Let’s do it the other way around,” so it is with the Chesapeake Panthers and Portsmouth Trojans.

Last season, Portsmouth was a young, inexperienced team. This time, Chesapeake has the young lineup when they meet in the season opener again.

The Panthers defense must contain Portsmouth junior quarterback Shane Porter. Junior Wes Jordan (6-2, 225) has moved from tight end to tailback and Josh Nelson (5-9, 231) and Chase Barry (6-0, 227) lead a seasoned offensive line.

The receiving corps is led by speedy Malik White and tight end Nate Cadogan (6-6, 233).

“They’re about the same as last year only more experienced. They’re going to throw it and run a big tailback at you,” Panthers coach Phil Davis said.

“They spread it out and throw it. Their quarterback was pretty good last year against us.”

Davis is concerned how his team will play on the road to open the season.

“This year, we’re inexperienced. I felt our kids got better from the first scrimmage to the preview. But we’ve never played well at Portsmouth. We can’t make mistakes, we have to execute on offense, play good defense and not turn the ball over,” Davis said.

South Point at Johnson Central, Ky.

Forget dessert. The Pointers won’t be facing a cupcake in their opener.

Johnson Central was 8-3 last season and a playoff qualifier. The Golden Eagles opened their season last week with a 40-6 win over North Laurel.

Linebackers Michael Tackett (6-0, 205) and Blake Johnson (6-2, 245) lead a strong defense that has to compensate for the graduation of the state’s leading rusher Ron Blume and two-year starting quarterback Sean Music.

The quarterback matchup will be interesting. South Point has Chris Smith, who gave a verbal commitment to Marshall, testing his rifle arm against the Eagles new quarterback J.K. Ratliff, a 6-5, 190-pound junior with a very strong arm.

Nathaniel Dials (6-3, 245), a transfer from Lawrence County, will be at defensive end.

Portsmouth West at Fairland

It’s the Baby Bottle Bowl.

Two young teams featuring a lot of sophomores meet to open the season as West (6-4) last season tangles with the Dragons.

“They’re kind of like us. They’re starting a lot of sophomores,” Fairland coach Brent Wilcoxon said.

“They have some athletic, quick guards and big tackles. They’re always an aggressive team. I’m sure we’ll have our hands full.”

The Senators have big returning linemen in guard Chaz Horsley (6-3, 220) and tackle Zak Lafontains (6-1, 250).

With running back Jarrod Pendleton gone, the defense will focus its attention on senior quarterback Austin Seevers (6-0, 180). However, Seeves underwent an emergency appendectomy last week and his status is uncertain.

“They’re always going to be primarily a running team, although the quarterback can throw some,” Wilcoxon said.

Racine Southern at Symmes Valley

New Southern coach Dennis Teaford takes over a Tornado team that was 2-8 last seaso and gave up nearly 60 points a game.

But Southern returns 23 juniors and seniors this season led by speedy running back Butch Marnhout (6-1, 190) and wide receiver Wes Riffle ((5-11, 165). Transfer Jordan Pierce (6-0, 170) takes over at quarterback.

Buffalo, W.Va. at Green

Buffalo was a playoff team last season in Class A, but suffered heavy graduation losses.

The top returning players are junior quarterback Nick Harris and running back Kevin McCoy.

Harris was 70 of 120 last season for 1,233 yards and 14 touchdowns. He threw only five interceptions. McCoy was the fourth leading rusher with 232 yards on 32 carries and two TDs.

“They’re not bad. They lost 12 or 13 seniors. They have a real good quarterback. He’s 6-2 and throws a real good ball. He runs the team well,” Sheridan said. “They’re pretty balanced offensively. They run as much as they throw.

“They run a lot of pro formation but they shift to a flex and put a lot of guys in motion. They like to use a lot of misdirection. They want to put points on the board.”

Sheridan hopes his young team will be able to move the ball against the Buffalo defense.

“They play a 4-4 and the middle linebacker gets to the ball pretty well. They have some size in their two down tackles.”