This Friday, two area football fanbases full of tradition will face off against each other in a rematch of last year’s highly anticipated bout which saw the Senators victorious, 27-21 on Raceland’s home field. The Rams would go on to the state finals of Class 1A division in Kentucky’s playoff system in impressive fashion by beating Eastern Kentucky powerhouses Pikeville and Paintsville before losing in the title game to Northern Kentucky’s Beechwood High School. The Senators would ride their winning streak into their final regular season game against their rival Wheelersburg before losing to the Pirates in the season finale and losing their second playoff game against Johnstown-Monroe, 35-6.
The tale of the tape for these two schools is very similar to that of a year ago. Raceland enters the game having their only loss of the season so far being to Ashland, a team who is currently #1 in the Class 4A AP poll. The Rams enter this week five matchup ranked #3 in the Class 1A AP poll fresh off their impressive week four victory against the Valley Indians, another Scioto County powerhouse who has had a down couple of years by their standards but have had success at the highest level including making the division VI state semifinals in 2014.
The Portsmouth West Senators come into this week’s matchup an undefeated 4-0 with two impressive victories on their resume. They defeated the Portsmouth Trojans in Trojan Coliseum 13-0 and were able to hold the run oriented Trojan offense to less than 100 total yards in their week two matchup. The next week, the Senators opened their slate of three straight home games with the reigning OVC champs, the Coal Grove Hornets. The Senators defeated the Hornets 21-14 following a scoreless first half, a near three hour weather delay due to storms in the area, and a revitalized Coal Grove offensive approach left them very close to stealing a road victory at ‘The Rock’.
Senators head coach Ben Johnson knows his team will need to come ready to play in order to win Friday’s slugfest. “Raceland is a very good football team” said Johnson, “They are explosive on offense and stingy on defense. They are well coached and disciplined and will not make any mistakes. We will have to be sound in all phases of the game. We need to play great on defense, take care of the ball on offense, and make big plays with special teams.”
Head coach for the Rams, Michael Salmons, was very respectful of the Senators and the team Coach Johnson has developed over the last few seasons in West Portsmouth. “Portsmouth West has a phenomenal team and Coach Johnson has done an incredible job building this team” said Salmons, “They have it all: size, power, speed, and experience. It all starts with their dominant run game. They have the best running back we have faced this season in (Garrett) Hurd. He’s a next level player. Trying to stop him will be a tall task for us to compete with on Friday night.”
Hurd has had an impressive season through four weeks, as Salmons noted. He has rushed for 399 yards while scoring seven total touchdowns in those four contests (six rushing, one receiving). Prior to season, at the Senators’ media day, Hurd said he was looking forward to this year’s rematch with the Rams most of all. “I’m looking towards the Raceland game” said Hurd, “Last year, it was a close game and I’m looking for a blowout this year. I want to have a blow out against them.”
Hurd and his team will have that opportunity this Friday night in our game of the week in Scioto county, kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT