CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – In a true Harrison County battle, Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd square off on Friday.
One thing that comes to mind when thinking of each of these teams is their dominant run games.
Bridgeport prides themselves on their strong ground game that has led them to an undefeated start to the season while Byrd holds one of the top running backs in the state, Jeremiah King, who just recently surpassed the 5,000 career rushing yard mark.
These teams are not new opponents by any means. Last season Bridgeport got the best of Robert C. Byrd 58-21. Each team knows what to expect out of the other.
“It’s the same type of kids, the same thing every year every time we play them year in and year out. They’re hard-nosed, they’re disciplined, they play with great effort, they carry the ball right, they never miss a line. Year in and year out, they’re the same program,” RCB head coach Josh Gorrell said.
“Last year they threw the ball around a little bit more than we were expecting and I can see something very similar happening. But obviously they need to rely on their run game to be able to stay on the field and keep our offense off,” Bridgeport head coach Tyler Phares said.
Bridgeport enters this game undefeated coming off of a tight win over Fairmont Senior. Phares, as he mentioned, notices Robert C. Byrd has a similar offense to the Polar Bears with the amount they throw and run.
“They’re big. They’ve got a good run game and more of a zone blocking team than anything else we’ve seen so far so it’s a little bit different flavor than what we’re used to now but they can throw the ball a little bit. Not that different from Fairmont from a run pass standpoint,” Phares said.
With the amount RCB may or may not throw, Phares touched on how his pass defense must improve from the Fairmont Senior game.
“We definitely had some errors in the secondary. Some of them were mental mistakes, some of them were just communication errors but we’ve had a good week of practice. We’re excited to go back and prove that was a fluke,” Phares said.
For the Indians, this week is all about proving what they can do on the field.
“Our message this week is all about us. We want to play our best game. We get everybody else’s best game and that’s understandable but we want to play our best. We haven’t done that yet and we’re excited to go out and try to do that,” Phares said.
On the other hand, RCB fell to Keyser last week. A game many did not expect the Flying Eagles to lose.
Gorrell said his team didn’t play a physical football game and they were flat on both sides of the ball. Gorrell expects that to turn around this Friday.
“We’ve got to control the line of scrimmage. Jeremiah [King] has got to set the tone early and often. If we do those two things, we’ll be fine. Defensively we’ve got to stop the run, obviously. I mean, we’ve got to contain Cole, get on the edge on him. If we do those things we’ll be okay. It doesn’t matter what took place last week or over the last 10 years, The Tribe is coming to town, you better be ready,” Gorrell said.
When asked if he thinks the Indians will prioritize stopping Jeremiah King on the ground, his answer was- probably.
“I would if I were them. I think they’re probably coming in here with the mindset of ‘we’re not going to let him run’ and that’s fine. That’s a challenge for us,” Gorrell said.
Gorrell, metaphorically speaking, said this game is going to be a fist fight. If his team isn’t ready to take punches and deliver them back, the game won’t go in their favor.
“Truthfully this is a phone booth, this is a fist fight. You either want to get inside, mix it up and you like that kind of atmosphere and that attitude, or you want to stand on the sideline and hold hands. That’s truthfully what it comes down to,” Gorrell said.
The two square off at the Flying Eagles football facility Friday night at 7 p.m.