Trojans look to continue roll into playoffs
Chase (6-4, 4-3 SMAC) has won three straight games on its way to a playoff berth and its second winning season in two years, but a win tonight at East Rutherford (3-7, 3-4 SMAC) would go a long way to its playoff seeding and the perception of the season.
The teams, which both lost to R-S Central, are playing to avoid a last place finish in the county standings.
"Any time you're playing a county rival you know it's going to be a tough ball game," Chase head coach Daniel Bailey said. "We just want to keep that momentum going into the playoffs."
The triple option attack of the Chase offense has carried them throughout the season, but the coaching staff knows that every coach in Forest City is focused on stopping its ground game even if senior wingback Jordan O'Rourke is battling a sprained ankle.
"It doesn't matter what you run against the triple option, there's always going to be something there, it's just up to us to figure out what it is," Bailey said. "They'll send pressure and it's up to our offensive line to pick it up. We'll figure out what they're giving us and go from there."
Junior quarterback Tyrell Boykins has played well in recent weeks after struggling during the middle of the season. Tonight could hinge on his reads in the backfield.
"Our offense is about establishing a rhythm early," Bailey said. "We need our quarterback to make the right reads and make the big run if he has to. Lately he hasn't been making long runs, but he has made the ones to get us a first down."
On the defensive side of the ball, Bailey knows the Cavaliers are likely to put the ball in the air with senior quarterback Austin Hollifield.
"Hollifield does a great job. If you leave their guys open then he'll hit the open receiver," Bailey said. "He doesn't make a lot of misreads, he doesn't commit a lot of turnovers or throw interceptions. You have to put pressure on him. If you allow him to sit back there he can pick you apart.
"They try to get the ball into open space and get their athletes to make you miss."
Last year's meeting between these two teams was decided in overtime on a Harrison Wilkerson field goal. This game is has the makings to be equally as dramatic.
"Our kids expect that kind of game," Bailey said. "This game has been a tight ball game for the past several years so we know we'll have to play four quarters of football. The details of the game will make the difference."
And if one thing is for certain, emotions will be riding high all night between the county rivals.
"The trick for these guys is to understand when to use the emotions to their advantage and when to keep them under control," Bailey said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.