Sequoyah routed River Ridge 41-14 on the Knights’ home field to open the 2012 season.
Chiefs coach James Teter doesn’t expect that to happen again.
“I think (River Ridge) will definitely be a lot better,” he said. “We will have our hands full. I think it will be a good game for everybody. We need to control the ball and keep it out of their hands. They have a real good little running back, and we can’t let him be out on the field all night. We have to find a way to control the ball.”
Both coaches agree that playing a county rival adds some intensity. Some of the players at River Ridge would have attended Sequoyah had their school not opened five years ago.
“There are a lot of emotions on both sides,” Teter said. “You don’t know how the kids are going to respond. I think they will be excited and up for it. It’s just a little different than playing someone who is not a county school.”
While Sequoyah will face Creekview during Region 7AAAAA play, the only time the Knights will play a county opponent is during non-region competition. In addition to Sequoyah, River Ridge will also play Creekview next week.
River Ridge coach Robert Braucht said he won’t be approaching the game any differently. In his opinion, beating an in-county team doesn’t mean too much.
The games that really count are the subregion contests.
“It’s just like any other game,” he said. “The only games that we are going to count differently are the ones that get us to the state playoffs, and for us, those are our subregion games.”
Sequoyah will challenge River Ridge with a strong offensive line, but it lacks a veteran player in the backfield after graduating standout running back Blake Ingleton.
River Ridge will counter with improved offensive and defensive lines, and it returns a talented running back in E.J. Ellis.
Both teams boast experienced quarterbacks, with Lex Lauletta at Sequoyah and Steven Spears at River Ridge.
Sequoyah has spent most of the past two weeks preparing for the game, and Teter said his players are ready to take the field. Most of the position battles have been settled.
“They are prepared,” he said. “There are a few things that we will still do by committee, such as our wingbacks, we will still rotate a lot of kids in. Defensively, pretty much everything is locked in. Offensively, we are still trying to iron out a few things.”
Most importantly, the Chiefs have remained healthy.
“We have bumps and bruises like everyone,” Teter said, “but we are as healthy as we can be.”
Braucht said his team is in a similar boat.
“We are just trying to get so much done,” he said. “We aren’t unhealthy. We just aren’t in as good of shape as we could be. We are going to back off on some of the tackling the rest of the week to reduce some of the mishaps and smashed fingers.”