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Rebels face Bulldogs in big-time matchup

Both teams are undefeated

WEST UNION — Ritchie County head coach Rick Haught admitted it was nice to finally get a win over a St. Marys team that had beaten his Rebels in two consecutive seasons.

He’s more thrilled his group has a chance to do it two weeks in a row.

“This is a good time of year to have games like this,” Haught said. “Playing really solid programs back-to-back is a little bit of a challenge.”

Next up?

Doddridge County awaits the rival Rebels for an undefeated showdown. The Bulldogs barely edged them out, 9-8, on a late DJ Devinney 27-yard field goal in 2020. One year earlier, Hunter America ran 31 times for 209 yards, scoring two touchdowns, in a 27-18 setback.

Doddridge comes into the game off a two-week break. Its game with Calhoun County being postponed due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Red Devils.

Game time is 7 p.m. Friday inside Cline Stansberry Stadium.

Haught’s group enters the contest flying high after the 36-7 win over the Blue Devils. Many of the mistakes made in a 50-48 OT win over Wahama didn’t pop up a week ago.

Rebel defenders held the Blue Devils to 212 yards, including 135 yards on just 26 carries.

“We were very pleased with the improvement of the defense. We were much better against the run,” Haught said.

That may have come right in time.

He’s expecting the ground game to be a big part of the Bulldogs’ effort. “If we don’t stop the run, I guarantee you that is all we are going to see. Doddridge has made a living off using its solid offensive line to pick up big numbers,” he said. True.

So far in two games, the Bulldogs have rushed 117 times for 665 yards. Senior Dylan Knight owns 237 of those yards, while Seth Richards picked up 222. All seven team scores have come on the ground.

Their ability to consistently move the ball is exactly what concerns Haught so much.

“I don’t know if it is worry or respect,” Haught said. “But, I have a lot of respect for the execution they always have. They are not going to beat themselves on both sides of the ball. They are extremely disciplined and force you to beat them because they aren’t going to help you out.”

Haught and Burnside expect to have everyone available for the game. “Our boys are excited and it should be a really great atmosphere,” Burnside said.

Speaking of big distractions, is Haught worrying that the good feelings from the St. Marys win could bleed over into the opening quarters against the Bulldogs?

Well, he’s certainly going to remind his group of the ramifications.

“That can happen where a team wants it too much,” he said. “I am guessing both sides will be leery enough. I would rather have them amped up too much than not enough. If you come out too amped up you will settle down where you belong. If you don’t, then you find yourselves like the Wahama game with your backs against the wall.

“We don’t want to be in that situation in a rivalry game. We could find ourselves in a world of hurt against a team that does such a good job protecting the lead.”

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