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Life in the Fast Lane

Kenny Chesney isn’t the only one living in fast forward.

When the Fairland Dragons visit the Coal Grove Hornets Friday in a showdown for the Ohio Valley Conference championship, speed will be the name of the game for both teams.

“They’re fast. They have good speed, good size up front, and they have a lot of kids back up front so they have experience,” said Hornets’ coach Dave Lucas.

The Hornets will try to contain the Fairland speed with their own speed in hopes of winning the OVC title outright. Coal Grove (8-1, 4-0) has clinched at least a share of the title for the third straight season.

Fairland will try to use its speed to gain a share of the title for the second straight season. The Dragons (6-3, 3-1) lost their chance at an outright title with a 20-14 upset loss to Chesapeake last week.

Dragons’ first-year head coach Dave Carroll said he’s more worried about Coal Grove’s speed on defense than offense.

“They have a good stable of running backs, but they attack you on defense. They use a lot of different fronts and send people from a lot of different places,” said Carroll.

“Offensively we have to keep our heads up and figure out what they’re going to do and take advantage of it.”

Coal Grove not only needs a win to clinch their first post-season berth since 1992, but it would like to avenge last year’s 41-6 loss.

Lucas said the game will come down to who plays the best defense.

“They’re a spread team that runs. They throw for big plays, but basically they run the ball,” said Lucas.

Speaking of spread offense, Coal Grove just likes to spread the ball around.

Oakie Haynes leads the team with 731 yards on 123 carries and a team-high 15 touchdowns. Frank Delawder has 100 carries for 540 yards and seven touchdowns. Boo Woods has rushed 43 times for 662 yards or a 15.4 average and has five scores.

Quarterback Evan Ferguson is 42-of-71 for 768 yards and seven TDs while suffering just one interception.

Seven different players have caught passes with Haynes getting nine for 159, Aaron Dickess eight grabs for 221 and Shawn Morrison seven for 103 yards and two TDs.

Fairland is diversified itself.

Matt Bloomfield is the key weapon with 699 yards rushing on 96 carries and 12 receptions for 438 yards and five TDs. Quarterback Chad Fisher is 53-of-110 for 1,114 yards and 14 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He has rushed 93 times for 472 yards and three TDs.

Tyler Duty has carried 36 times for 344 yards and four scores but isn’t expected to play due to an injury. Eric Riley — 16 carries for 251 yards — is expected to fill Duty’s spot.

Kyle Taubenheim had 14 receptions for 309 yards and five touchdowns.

“We lose a dimension from what (Duty) can do. We have to adjust. Eric Riley can do the job, he’s just a sophomore and Duty is a senior so there is more experience,” said Carroll.

While the weather was a factor last week, Carroll said that won’t be a factor this time.

“I think the game will be decided on penalties and turnovers. It’ll be better playing on turf instead of soupy mud,” said Carroll.