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Chesapeake, Fairland meet in annual clash of backdoor rivals

Now this is a rivalry.

A lot of teams list another school as their chief rival, but the Chesapeake-Fairland game is one of the best in the area.

Many times the underdog finds a way to win. It almost happened again last year when the three-win Panthers had some late breakdowns and lost a wild 62-48 decision to Fairland.

Fans can expect more of the same this year.

Fairland is 2-5 and 2-1 in the OVC. Chesapeake is 4-4 and 2-1. Each needs a win to keep their flickering league title hopes alive.

“We’ve been talking about (winning the league) every game, but it’s still Fairland, too. You can’t ignore that,” said Panthers’ coach Phil Davis.

Another thing the Panthers can’t ignore is the Dragons’ potent offense that is loaded with weapons. Quarterback Cole Hatfield is the leader on offense but he is surrounded by running backs Blayne Cornwell and Chad Bloomfield and receivers Chad Fisher and Aaron Ward.

“They’re more versatile than they have been,” said Davis. “They make a lot of big plays. They’re very athletic. You see a bunch of long runs in the last few ball games.

“They look like they’ve gotten better. They’ve won two and they’ve been in the other games.”

But Fairland isn’t the only team capable of scoring. Chesapeake has had its moments this season and the Panthers have their own skilled players such as quarterback Aaron Donahoe, fullback Alex Wells, and running back/receivers Kyle Webb, Drew Blake, Ryan Reynolds and Peter Hintz.

“I see speed and an offense that can give us fits,” said Fairland coach Roger Snyder. “I hope it’s nothing like (last year), but if we get rolling and they get rolling it could be.”

While both teams have explosive offenses, the key will in other areas. Snyder said the Dragons’ defense must step up.

“Donahoe is a good athlete. He’s our number one priority. No one has really shut him down. And we have to stop the first phase of their offense. I don’t think we can shut them down completely,” said Snyder.

Davis looks for the difference to be the same thing as last year’s game: turnovers.

“I think we’d love to stop them, but offensively we’ve moved the ball some, too. I suspect it’ll come down to like last year. It’ll come down to turnovers regardless if it’s high-scoring or low-scoring.