A look at the records and this game doesn’t seem to be very important. So, don’t look at the records.
The Fairland Dragons come into Friday’s Ohio Valley Conference game 6-2 and 3-0 in the league, good for a first place tie with Coal Grove. The Dragons need a win to set up a season-ending showdown at Coal Grove and keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Chesapeake Panthers will enter the game 2-6 and 1-2.
Doesn’t look good, right?
But the one thing fans shouldn’t forget is this game is a major rivalry.
“Our players understand this game means more to other people, but it’s a rivalry and I think we’ll stay focused,” said Panthers’ coach Phil Davis.
Fairland coach Dave Carroll said the records don’t mean anything from what he’s seen.
“We’ve watched two different films and it’s a tale of two different teams. Against Rock Hill, they didn’t get it done. Against River Valley, they did whatever they wanted,” said Carroll.
Since the two teams are bitter rivals, the outcome isn’t always as expected. Each coach knows what his team must do to either pull off the upset or avoid it.
“Execution on offense for us is really important. And we can’t give up big plays. We have to make them drive the ball,” said Davis.
Carroll agreed, noting the two teams each have speedy backs with big-play capabilities.
“Their offensive line gets into people pretty well. If we don’t come to play defense, it could be a long evening,” said Carroll. “(Chesapeake) has some quick backs. (Gabriel) Freyre and (Peter) Hintz make plays and Trey West is pretty darn good, he just doesn’t get the ball that much.”
Fairland will counter with Matt Bloomfield and quarterback Chad Fisher as their key weapons.
The running game hurt the Dragons last week in a 42-24 win over South Point. Despite the win, the Pointers Doug Dillon ran for 311 yards and four touchdowns.
“We don’t match up very well. They’ve got more fast people and they’re pretty athletic. They make more plays in space. They don’t have to throw it too far to go score. It’ll be a challenge because we really haven’t done well against that all year,” said Davis.
While the Panthers hope to score quickly and force the Dragons into long drives, Carroll is looking for the opposite to happen.
“I want to make them earn it. South Point broke it off. We can’t allow it. We need to step it up or it’s going to be a long night. We’ll have to play a good game. This is one of those track games,” said Carroll.