at Corinth Holders (1-0)
It’s been all Comet blue so far in this developing school rivalry. Clayton has outscored the Pirates 83-18 in the last two seasons and looks to build on that streak heading into the long weekend.
The experience for Corinth Holders is on the defensive side of the ball this season, and that’s the group that will need to step up if the series trend gets reversed this week. The Pirates return nine starters on that side of the ball.
They’ll have to figure out Clayton’s wing-T attack, which features dangerous slashing runners and the pounder in fullback Jace Brown. The Comets also want to get quarterback Sam May involved more in the offense early this season, so the Pirates’ secondary will need to be readily aware of play action off of the run game.
Offensively, the Pirates need to find some more production of their own. Ideally, those would be clock- and yardage-churning drives.
Record: Clayton leads the series, 2-0.
at Cleveland (0-1)
Phase two of the “it couldn’t get any better” schedule to start the season for Cleveland fans as the powerful Trojans visit Ram country for a colossal clash.
Both teams are driven by their run games. Isaac Martin, who ran for 2,000-plus yards in 2012, powers the Cleveland offense, and Nyheim Hines, a threat on the ground on passes and kick returns, leads the Garner attack.
Expect the big plays to flow. With both defenses still breaking in inexperienced players on defense there’s reason to believe this will be a 40-something to 30-something final.
However, there are the intangibles to deal with: turnovers, momentum, etc. And although Cleveland’s played in its share of big games in its short history, there’s something different about seeing Garner lined up on the opposite sideline or across the line of scrimmage. The Rams have to get over that quickly because no team is better at turning a little momentum or one big play into a two- or three-touchdown run in five minutes or less.
From an Xs and Os standpoint, watch the cat-and-mouse game before the snap when Cleveland has the ball. Rams’ head coach and chief play caller Marc Morris likes to wait for the defense to commit to a look before he makes his offensive call. So Garner has to be good at disguising what it’s doing: who’s blitzing, what kind of coverage it is, etc. to be as effective as it can on defense.
Last point, get there early. If you thought last year’s visit from West Johnston brought both sides’ fans out to Polenta Road, wait until you see the crowd that’ll be there Friday night.
Record: First meeting.