Chesapeake, Coal Grove meet for Little Brown Jug
CHESAPEAKE, Ohio -- At the start of the season, Chesapeake High School football coach Andy Clark and Coal Grove coach Dave Lucas had winning the Ohio Valley Conference football title as one of their objectives.
One team will take a big step toward achieving that goal Friday when Chesapeake (4-4) and Coal Grove (4-3) meet in a 7:30 p.m. game at Coal Grove. Both teams are 3-0 in OVC play.
"We've put ourselves in position to have that shot," Clark said Monday.
The winner also gets possession of the Little Brown Jug traveling trophy. Since the Hornets are defending OVC champs, that trophy currently is theirs, too.
Coal Grove is the game site because Chesapeake's stadium is undergoing renovation. Bleachers and the press box are up on the home side and bleachers on the visitor's side are up as well. The new field turf has been installed, but not ready to be used. Since the work (a new track is included) wouldn't be completed before the 2012 season started, Chesapeake had to play all 10 games on the road this season.
The Panthers practice on their baseball field.
Clark said he had a meeting with his seniors prior to the start of the season. One of the topics was playing all road games.
"They had 10 minutes to complain. Going out the door I didn't hear anything," Clark said. "They've handled it as well as they could. The joke about it some. They want to play at home. It's short trips now. That (no home games) is not the issue."
Both schools played difficult non-league schedules. Coal Grove lost to Wheelersburg (7-1), Lucasvilley Valley (8-0) and Columbus Bishop Ready (7-1). Chesapeake lost to Oak Hill (7-1), Wayne (7-0), Lucasville Valley and Portsmouth West (3-5).
"Good competition gets you ready for the league," Clark said.
In the OVC, the Panthers have beaten River Valley, Fairland and South Point. The Hornets have wins over Rock Hill, River Valley and Fairland. Against Fairland, Chesapeake overcame a 19-7 deficit to win, 26-19. Meanwhile, Coal Grove led the Dragons, 16-8, at the half and pulled away the final two periods for a 28-8 win.
"We backed ourselves in a hole," Clark said of the Fairland game. "We started to execute the changes we made at halftime. It all revolved around defense. We picked things up."
Against Fairland, Jacob Collins carried seven times for 121 yards and three touchdowns. He followed up with 138 yards on 21 carries and three more TDs in last week's win at South Point.
Clark knows Coal Grove has many ways to attack his defense. It starts with quarterback Alex Bare and continues with running backs Isaiah Gunther, Kyle Estep, Brandon Hogsten and Tanner Murphy. End Sean Paulus can't be overlooked as the caught three passes, all leading to first downs, in the win over Fairland. Then there's the big guys up front.
"They give you a lot to account for," Clark said. "Bare's a good quarterback and the fastest we've seen. They stay fresh, the line is big and strong and they can throw."
Two years ago, Chesapeake beat the Hornets, 25-22, at home to complete a 5-0 OVC run after starting 0-5. Last year, Coal Grove prevailed, 20-15, on its home field.
"It comes down to execution, mistakes and who wants it more," Clark said. "Our goal is to play well enough to give ourselves a chance to win at the end."