As River Ridge coach Robert Braucht sees it, tonight’s game will provide an excellent way to gauge exactly where his team stands in its first year in Class AAAA — and its first season with a senior class.
“(Tonight’s game) is going to give us a great measuring stick as to where we are at,” Braucht said.
The Knights’ coach said the biggest challenge of the game come not from Sequoyah’s offense or defense, but his team’s youth and inexperience.
“Our youth is definitely our biggest concern,” Braucht said. “Our boys have never played in this kind of atmosphere before. We really don’t know what to expect.”
The Knights have been forced to alter their offensive game plan the past week. Starting running back E.J. Ellis, who ran for 1,230 yards and 12 touchdowns last year and was a Class AA all-state honorable mention, is injured and will not play tonight.
“We’re going to look interesting on offense (tonight),” said Braucht, who had planned on frequently using Ellis to establish the run. “We’ve had to change things up, so there are going to be some different looks out there.”
Ellis’ absence could bring about a greater role for Austin Terrell, another talented back who complemented Ellis last year.
River Ridge will depend on a defense that operates out of multiple formations to counter whatever Sequoyah’s offense throws at them.
“We base our defense off of what other teams give us,” Braucht said. “Whatever formation they make us play, we’ll play.”
Sequoyah coach James Teter said the Chiefs will rely primarily on their defense to control the pace of the game.
“What our defense does dictates our approach to the game,” Teter said. “We’re depending on our defense to create chances for us to score.”
Offensively, he plans to establish the run early on before taking to the air.
Teter feels that a strong performance from both the offensive and defensive lines will be necessary for the Chiefs to emerge victorious.
“We have to get good line play up front,” he said. “If our lines can establish control, then we have a good chance of winning.”
Teter will rely on defensive lineman Colin Dozier and center A.J. Brown to win the battles in the trenches.
Despite River Ridge’s lack of experienced players, Teter expects a close game.
“It’s their first game in a new region and class, so I imagine that they are ready to go,” he said. “It’ll be a war to the end.”