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Slate is clean as Chesapeake faces Rock Hill to start OVC

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

Remember that old cliche, “You can throw the records out with this one.”

Well, open the window.

Coming into Friday’s game, the Chesapeake Panthers are 3-2 and their two losses are to unbeaten teams: 30-22 to Lucasville Valley and 21-7 to Portsmouth West.

The Rock Hill Redmen are 1-4 and the only win is against winless Oak Hill.

Ah, but this is conference play. Teams know each other well. That is evident of last season when Chesapeake won the Ohio Valley Conference and the Redmen finished 2-8, but the Panthers rallied late to escape with a 28-27 win.

“When you play in the conference, the records go back to 0-0,” said Chesapeake coach Andy Clark. “They look at this as a chance to get a fresh start and we look at it as a chance at a fresh start.

“The last couple of years they’ve played well against us. We expect the same thing.”

One of the keys to the Panthers’ success is the play of quarterback Austin McMaster. The 6-foot-5 senior has been a threat running and throwing the football.

Althugh McMaster is a concern, Rock Hill coach Todd Knipp said the Panthers are more than a one-man attack.

“They do a good job running the wing-T. They have a big, physical offensive line and they have the skilled kids to make plays,” said Knipp.

“They have a wideout (Javon Thompson) who gives them someone to throw deep. They do a good job spreading the ball around. You have to defend the whole field. We can’t give up the big play early.”

Rock Hill can match the Panthers in the quarterback area with 6-4 senior Will McCollister who not only threw for 1,000 yards last season but also led the team in rushing.

This season McCollister has been hampered by injuries and the offense has struggled without him. He missed last week in a 33-8 loss to Wheelersburg.

McCollister isn’t the only player missing for the Redmen. Fullback and linebacker Shane Harper has been out for three weeks due to an injury sustained in a car accident, thus leaving a big void on both sides of the ball.

“We’re preparing for them as if those two are playing,” said Clark. “If you add those two, they’re a much better team.

“They moved the ball against (Lucasville) Valley. They stopped themselves more than Valley stopped them.”

Knipp said the Redmen will have a hard time moving the ball against the Panthers.

“Defensively they fly to the football. Their backers are extremely aggressive and they are athletic in the secondary,” said Knipp.