Hilltoppers travel for final test
R-S Central (5-4, 4-3 SMAC) is feeling good after winning four games in a row and clinching the county championship, but that could all come to an abrupt end tonight in Lawndale as the Hilltoppers travel to face a powerful Burns team.
The Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1 SMAC) lead the conference in both total offense (402.5 yards per game) and total defense (226.3 yards per game).
"BUrns has been one of the best teams in this conference for a while," Central head coach Mike Cheek said. "We know it's going to be tough in Lawndale Friday night."
BUrns has already earned the right to be called one of the better teams in the state, but they have an extra fire lit under them after suffering its first loss of the season to Crest, 21-17. The Bulldogs need a win to clinch a share of the conference title.
"We know they'll come out hungry," Cheek said. "It's definitely something we're thinking about and told the kids. If we get through that first half it will be big for us."
Burns is led on offense by running back Tylan Ruff who has over 1,200 yards rushing on the year and 17 touchdowns.
"They just have so much size on their lines," Cheek said. "We'll have to be creative and find some ways to get around those big bodies."
Those big bodies pose a serious challenge for the Central running game that's down a man with Rashaun Whitesides nursing an injury.
"We have a couple kids banged up that we want back at full strength for the playoffs," Cheek said. "We want this game but we understand what's ahead of us."
With the injury in the backfield, Cheek is looking for new ways to get the ball in the hands of fullback Matt Atchley.
"Teams have been focusing on Matt at fullback so I want to move him around and use him from other positions," Cheek said. "We'll also use Nate Murray in the flats and some other guys to account for Rashaun."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Burns High School.