5 keys to a Raider victory over Fayetteville on Friday

2023 Raiders versus Fayetteville
Moore County quarterback Dawson White (left) hands off to running back Wes Clifton (right) during last year’s match up. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

PLEASE NOTE: Due to high forecasted temperatures on Friday, the kick off time for the Raiders versus Fayetteville Tigers game has been pushed back to 8 p.m.

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — It’s likely that the 11 or so seniors on this year’s Moore County Raiders squad have had August 25 circled on their calendar since around this time last year. Players from the class of 2024 have never beaten the Fayetteville Tigers.

Their freshman season the Tigers existed as the only losses on the Raiders successful 13-2 season. The Tigers beat the Raiders in Lincoln County by a touchdown during the regular season and then again 38-29 in the Class 1A Quarterfinals game. Fayetteville would go on to win the Class 1A State Championship that year.

During their sophomore season, the ranked Tigers bested the Raiders 52-31 in Lynchburg. Both teams moved on to the state playoffs. Moore County never made it past the first round – suffering a tough 63-12 defeat against McKenzie in the first round. Fayetteville made it to the State Quarterfinal before also being eliminated by McKenzie 14-8.

Last year, in what was hyped as the most entertaining game in the week – the #6 Raiders a #2 Fayetteville Tiger battled it out in a punch, counter punch game. The Tigers pulled away in the fourth quarter despite a determined performance by the junior heavy Raiders. The final score was 46-34. {To read our full coverage of that game, click here.} Once again, both teams made it into the state playoffs and both teams fell to McKenzie. The Raiders lost to McKenzie 56-21 in a second round game and Fayetteville lost by two points in the quarterfinal game the very next week.

Last season, TSSAA officials moved Fayetteville from Class 1A to Class 2A, so this year’s game won’t have playoff implications, but that doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t come into the rivalry game determined and with a considerable chip on their shoulder. This senior class has something to prove.

Here are five things The Times thinks are key to a victory on Friday:

1| Kick them while they are down (figuratively). The Class 4A powerhouse Upperman Bees embarrassed the Tigers in Baxter last Friday night with a 26-0 shutout in which the Bees defense absolutely smothered the Tiger offense. Fayetteville isn’t used to not scoring points and they’ll probably come into Doug Price Field on their heels.

2 | Stay hydrated. Raiders started dropping like Columbia blue flies last Friday night in the third quarter of the Cascade game. It’s gonna be hot Friday night in Lynchburg. So hot in fact, that game officials have pushed back kickoff from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in order to try and keep players and fans safe. If you are a Raider reading this article, drink Gatorade like it’s your job for the next 24 hours.

3 | Play aggressive in the first half. Upperman came out swinging last Friday night in Baxter. They put up a quick seven points in the first half and then proceeded to hassle, stymy, and harass the Tiger offense until half time. It got in the Tiger’s collective heads and it showed. They came out of the halftime locker room flat. Fayetteville isn’t used to playing from behind and they don’t seem to thrive as an underdog. Moore County’s offense needs to come out aggressive in the first half and try to build a considerable halftime lead.

4 | Contain Willoughby. Moore County boasts a four-year starter, option quarterback in Dawson White but the Tigers option QB Samuel Willoughby is also one of their best weapons. He played backup to Sam Holdmeyer during the Tigers first-ever state championship season, but he’s every bit elusive in the pocket. The Bees brought plenty of pressure last week and kept Willoughby uneasy. It was a winning strategy.

5 | Maintain a good run, pass mix. We’d imagine the Raiders aren’t an easy team to defend against. They are far from one dimensional. Running back Logan Hegwood can burn defenses with his quick, illusive feet. If he’s not open, receivers Keller Morey, Will Parker, and Alex Copeland play savvy offense and know when to come back to the pass. If those two options are shut down, option quarterback Dawson White can tuck it and muscle his way forward for yards. A good play call mix could be the key to success on Friday.

The Raiders versus Tigers matchups starts at 8 p.m. on Friday. Those who can’t attend can watch the action live on the NFHS Network or The Times will post live score updates on its Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is a nonpartisan community newspaper serving Lynchburg, Tennessee and the surrounding counties. We also provide news and information for the 350,000 folks who come to Lynchburg to visit The Jack Daniel’s Distillery each year. We are dedicated to public service journalism for the greater good of our community. You can support us, by clicking here.}