After kicking off the season with a dominant 41-14 win over River Ridge, the Chiefs (1-2) have found themselves on the losing end of two close encounters with Cherokee and Riverwood.
While Sequoyah coach James Teter feels his players haven’t played poorly this season, they have yet to turn in a complete performance.
“Everything has been alright. We just haven’t played a complete game yet,” Teter said. “We just need to raise our level of play just a bit in every area. Until we do, we will struggle.”
Carrying the load for the Chiefs will be running back Blake Ingleton, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season and been one of the team’s bright spots.
For Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford, containing Ingleton — rather than stopping him — is key for Sprayberry’s success.
“They hang their hat on the running game, and I’m not sure if we can stop it,” Shackelford said. “We’re just going to try to slow them down by putting helmets on the ball. We’d like to put them in some third-and-long situations to create some turnovers.”
Shackelford also plans to combat Sequoyah’s smash-mouth offense with a strong running game of his own.
“A good defense is a good offense,” he said. “Just like them, we are going to try and control the game on the ground. The more we can keep their offense on the sideline, the better.”
Teter’s biggest concern going into tonight’s game is the self-destructive nature Sequoyah seems to possess once it enters the opposing team’s red zone.
“Last week, we made it into the red zone four times, and we didn’t score at all from any of those trips,” Teter said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. When you depend on running the ball between the tackles as more of a short yardage-based team, penalties that take you from third-and-short to third -and-long, and turnovers, are very difficult to overcome.”
Even if Sprayberry experiences the same struggles in the red zone that Sequoyah has felt, Shackelford isn’t too worried, as the Yellow Jackets have one of the top-ranked high school kickers in the country in sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship.
“Blankenship can kick a 50-yard field goal, and you’ll see us doing that,” Shackelford said. “While we’ve been inconsistent on offense and defense, our kicking game has been really solid because of him.”
Though the Sprayberry coach feels tonight’s game will be close, no one in attendance will leave disappointed.
“Every time we play Sequoyah, it’s a battle,” Shackelford said. “It’s going to be worth the price of admission, I can tell you that much.”