BATTLE OF THE BLUE: 5 Keys to a Raider victory over Huntland

Raiders versus Huntland
The annual Battle of the Blue will take place on Friday in Lynchburg at Doug Price Field. Kick off happens at 7 p.m. (GRAPHIC CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — The Huntland rivalry dates back to the days when legendary Tennessee Vols coach Johnny Majors (known as John Majors around these parts) walked the streets of Lynchburg, and on Friday night, the Hornets will travel to Doug Price Field in Lynchburg for the annual Battle of the Blue. {To read more about the history of the Raider, Huntland rivalry, click here.}

The Moore County Raiders will come into the game boasting a perfect 7-0 record and with just three games left in the regular season, Huntland, Forrest, and Richland, every game counts. After Friday night’s 35-6 victory over #9 Collinwood, the Raiders remain ranked in the #3 spot in Class 1A high school football, according to the Associated Press. South Pittsburg (7-0) and Dresden (8-0) sit ranked at #1 and #2.

But you can throw the record books away when it comes to this game. Think it’s not a heated rivalry? Just head on over to the Coach T Message Boards and read the Huntland @ Moore County thread. “Huntland will be mercy ruled in the first quarter is my understanding,” Raider1234 posted.

Last year, Moore County’s “Thunder and Lightening” – option QB Dawson White and running back Logan Hegwood – combined for four touchdowns against Huntland to help hand them a 35-7 loss in Franklin County. It was a penalty and turnover filled game that the Raiders need to avoid repeating. {To read our full coverage of last year’s game, click here.}

I watched a little game film, and here’s what I think are five keys to a Raider victory:

1| Don’t look past the Hornets. | Yes, the Hornets are experiencing a rebuilding year. They’re currently sitting in the #5 spot in the Region 5A rankings with a 1-2 district record, but anything can and will happen in this rivalry game. As the season winds down, folks start to talk about the playoffs, but the Raiders need to take it one game at a time. They shouldn’t make the mistake of looking past the Hornets, even on a down year. Moore County has beaten Huntland the past four years in a row, and the Hornets would like nothing better than to march into Lynchburg and play spoiler. A team with nothing to lose can be dangerous to post season goals.

2| Keep an eye on Jarren Kinslow. | Moore County boasts two players – option QB Dawson White and running back Logan Hegwood – who put up 100 yards each per game, but the Hornets possess their own century player in #12 Jarren Kinslow. Kinslow’s scored 11 of the Hornets 15 touchdowns so far this year. He also plays on both sides of the ball, and sits as the Hornet’s top tackler with 71 on the season. He also leads in sacks. The Moore County defense will need to contain him on Friday and the offensive line will need to protect QB White from him.

3 | Avoid personal fouls. | Look, Moore County plays physical, smash-mouth football. There’s a lot of adrenaline pumping between those hash marks, I get it. But there have been too many unsportsmanlike penalties in the last several games – especially for unnecessary extracurriculars after the play. Those penalties can be costly, especially to repeat offenders. Get two in a single game and you’ll sit out the first half of the next game. It’s not worth it. Friday night will be chippy. It always is, but the Raiders need to keep their heads.

4 | Play patient. | If I were the Huntland OC, I’d be drawing up long, clock-killing drives that keep the high-octane Raider offense off the field for as long as possible. It’s a good plan that will likely frustrate the Raider defense. That can result in costly false start and encroachment penalties. Moore County will need to play patient, and work together to avoid costly drive-sustaining penalties.

5 | Bring the heat on defense. Moore County experienced an uncharacteristic sluggish third quarter against Collinwood last week. {To read our complete game coverage, click here.} The Raider defensive leaders, Peyton Martin (61 tackles), Eli Brown (49 tackles), Wes Clifton (46 tackles), Dawson White (44 tackles), and Landon Smith (43 tackles), need to bring the heat on Friday night and welcome the Hornets to Lynchburg in true rivalry style. A couple of sacks and interceptions would make the home crowd happy.

The Moore County versus Huntland game will take place on Friday the 13th in Lynchburg. Kickoff happens at 7 p.m. If you can’t travel with the team, the Moore County Sports Network will broadcast the game live on the NFHS NetworkThe Times will also post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is a nonpartisan, independent community newspaper serving Lynchburg, Tennessee and the surrounding counties. We are dedicated to public service journalism for the greater good of our community. You can support us, by clicking here.}