Vikings open SOC race with Oaks

Published 1:54 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Jim Walker


It’s early in the season but it’s still a showdown.

In an early season battle for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Coal Grove Hornets visit the Rock Hill Redmen on Friday.

Coal Grove is 1-3 and 1-0 in the OVC while Rock Hill is 3-1 and 1-0 in a matchup of two strong running teams.

Hornets’ coach Brian Kidd said the Hornets have to slow down Rock Hill’s running tandem of Chance Blankenship and Danny Long who each ran for more than 100 yards in last week’s 27-20 overtime win over Chesapeake.

But the Coal Grove coach said his team can’t overlook quarterback Mason Darby or wingback Brady Knipp.

“They have two good backs but the freshman quarterback is playing well. He’s pretty good. That’s what makes them tough. They don’t have one guy who can beat you,” said Kidd.

“They have a good line and they have older kids who have played for a few years.”

Rock Hill will definitely have the experience factor on its side. Coal Grove’s only returning starter on offense is quarterback Daniel “Rudy” Rutherford who was a running back last season.

The top running backs in the Hornets’ offense are Jacob Clark, Tanner Henry and Kimo Baldwin. The top receivers are Chase McKnight and Sam Angelo.

“There’s not much different in their style and approach except they’re not as big up front as past teams and they’re really young,” said Rock Hill coach Todd Knipp.

“But they’re still going to try and put together long drives and control the clock. They’ve moved the ball on everybody they’ve played.”

Coal Grove has only three starters back on defense and Kidd said the lack of experience has been prominent in the opening four games.

“We made a lot of mistakes. That’s the sign of a young team. We can’t make a lot of mistakes because Rock Hill has a good football team and they have confident,” said Kidd.

“The team that has the least amount of turnovers and executes will come out on top. I think it’ll be a fun game. It’ll be exciting.”

In other Ohio Valley Conference games, the Ironton Fighting Tigers (0-4, 0-0) host the Portsmouth Trojans (2-2, 1-0), Fairland (0-4, 0-1) travels to South Point (1-3, 0-1), and the Chesapeake Panthers (3-1) visit Vincent Warren on Saturday night in a non-league game.

The Symmes Valley Vikings (1-3, 0-1) entertain the Green Bobcats (1-3, 0-1) in a Southern Ohio Conference game.