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Greenville, biggest game of season, awaits Blue Ridge

By John Clayton, Staff Reporter
Published on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Three games into the Region II-3A football schedule, Blue Ridge is facing its most important contest so far this season.

The unbeaten Tigers (5-0 overall, 2-0 region) play Greenville (3-2, 2-0) Friday night at Sirrine Stadium in a battle of conference heavyweights.

The winner will have the inside track on the region championship, but the Tigers know beating the Red Raiders could be their toughest task of the season so far.

“We’ve got to be a lot sharper. A perfect game – that’s what we have to play,” said senior defensive back Justin Howard. “We can’t have penalties or turnovers.”

Blue Ridge Head Coach Wade Cooper is hoping for a defensive effort similar to that delivered his team this past week in a 52-7 home win over Berea during which the Tigers forced four turnovers and held the Bulldogs under 150 yards in total offense.

“We’re going to prepare like we always do,” Cooper said. “Our kids love the game and they always want to work hard to prepare. We’re blessed to have kids like that.”

The work has paid off so far for the Tigers with five straight victories in which they have scored a conference-leading 247 points and allowed 81.

“We’re always preparing, and we’re going to keep preparing for Greenville,” said senior defensive back Brandon Bowen.

Greenville is coming off a 10-6 conference victory over Southside. The Red Raiders also notched a 24-17 win over Greer, so a victory over Blue Ridge would make Greenville the clear favorite for the conference title when looking at the Red Raiders’ strength of schedule. Pickens (3-2, 2-0) will host Greenville next week. The Red Raiders will finish the season with Travelers Rest, Berea and Eastside.

Blue Ridge will host the Blue Flame and also has home games against Travelers Rest and Southside as well as a visit to Greer on its schedule, so a win at Greenville is another step toward a region title, but offers no guarantees for the Tigers.

The regular-season ends with the Tigers’ annual grudge match with Greer, a game that determined last year’s conference championship and left Blue Ridge with a loss on its home field.

Senior running back Mikal Robinson said that defeat is fueling the Tigers this season.

“It was pretty bad at the end because we had a good team last year,” Robinson said. “A lot of people didn’t think we’d do so good this year, but we came out and showed that we can. (Last year) was a bitter taste, but we’re going to make up for it.”

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