With each team playing only five subregion games, more than just bragging rights will be at stake, as the winner will take its first step forward pushing for the state playoffs.
Nonetheless, Creekview coach Al Morrell acknowledged the game’s importance to the fans and the communities of both teams.
“Well, it is a big rivalry, there is no doubt,” said Morrell, who was Sequoyah’s offensive coordinator from 2002-05 before being appointed the Grizzlies’ inaugural coach. “Most of our first class at Creekview came from areas that used to send kids to Sequoyah, so the communities know each other pretty well and look forward to it. Our players are excited for it.”
Morrell, however, was more concerned with the game’s playoff implications than the rivalry itself.
“It’s not just a big game because of the rivalry,” he said. “It’s because it is our first subregion game. The team that wins this has a good chance of being the top team on our side of the region.”
Sequoyah coach James Teter downplayed the rivalry and insisted that the Chiefs (2-2) would treat the game just like any other.
“We want our kids to understand what is at stake — get them to understand that any subregion win will give you a leg up,” Teter said. “It doesn’t really matter to us who we are playing. It just so happens that our first region opponent is Creekview.”
The teams, with their campuses separated by about 9 miles in eastern Cherokee County, have met four times since 2008, and no game has been decided by more than 10 points. Sequoyah has won three of the games, with Creekview’s lone win a double-overtime victory in ’08.
As it related to tonight’s game, Creekview quarterback Hayden Hall will be forced to look for other options out wide with Brandon Wright and Hunter Udall missing due to their respective injuries, a torn calf muscle and an arm infection.
“Those are two big targets for Hayden that we are going to miss,” Morrell said.
Despite having a limited corps of receivers, Morrell said he will try to hit Sequoyah with a balanced, offensive attack in a bid to move the ball against a Sequoyah defense that has given up an average of 27 points per game this year.
Morrell also wants to see his offense cut down on the number of times that it is penalized.
“We have got to eliminate stupid penalties and stop putting ourselves in poor situations,” said Morrell, whose Grizzlies were penalized 11 times last week against Osborne.
For Sequoyah, the recipe for success will be the same one that it has used all season — give the ball to running back Blake Ingleton.
Ingleton, who rushed for 269 yards on 26 carries and scored six touchdowns last week at Sprayberry, has rushed for more than 200 yards in three of the Chiefs’ four games so far this season.
When asked why he felt that Ingleton had found so much success running the ball, Teter credited the improved play of the Chiefs’ offensive line.
“It’s not that Blake has really done anything special. Our offensive line has just been playing a lot better,” Teter said. “Our line has allowed not just Blake to have success, but our other running backs as well.”
It’s the lines of both teams that Teter feels will determine the outcome of tonight’s game.
“Our game plan is to get our running game going and to try and stop (Creekview’s) running game, and I’m sure that their game plan will be the same thing,” Teter said. “Whoever loses the battle up front is going to have some problems.”