Raiders face off with Houston County in playoff game on Friday

Raiders Dawson White and Logan Hegwood
2023 Class 1A Mr. Football semifinalist Dawson White hands off to Logan Hegwood against Richland last Friday. The Raiders will kick off post-season play in Lynchburg on Friday night with a Round 1 game against Houston County. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Following the Raiders 49-13 victory over Richland last Friday night in Lynchburg, Head Coach Kris White told his team, “Our real season starts now. This is what we’ve been working towards for four years.” The win earned Moore County a perfect 10-0 season but their head coach challenged them not to be satisfied. “You’re taking us somewhere we haven’t been in a long time,” he said.

This will be the fourth straight Kris White team to make post-season play.

According to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), the Moore County Raider Football Program has competed for the gold ball exactly twice in recent history. The Raiders have been the Class 1A Runners-up in 1988 and again in 1999.

The 1988 loss probably still stings for some Moore County fans. That’s the year that the Raiders lost by one point to Donaldson Christian Academy in the final moments of that year’s Clinic Bowl. In 1999, Moore County lost 42-13 to South Pittsburg – a team they seem to be on a collision course for a revenge rematch this year. In total, the Raiders have made it into the state playoff 33 times dating back to 1975.

Key in on Mitchell, Cary, and Hooper

On Friday in Lynchburg, the Raiders will take the first step with a home playoff game against the Region 6A fourth place team, Houston County. The Fighting Irish will come into the game with a 4-6 regular season record. They’ve appeared in the Class 1A State Playoff 13 times with a 5-12 playoff record.

On offense, the Fighting Irish are led by senior quarterback #11 Grayson Pate. Pate is 36 of 97 on pass completions for the year with just two interceptions. Their top rushers are sophomore #27 Preston Mitchell and junior #16 Malaki Cary. Mitchell rushed for 761 yard in the regular season and averages 84 yard per game and 6.8 yards per carry. Cary added another 541 regular season yards and averages 54 yards per game and 7.4 yards per carry. In the receiving game, their top performer is junior #26 Tristen Hooper with 245 total yards and 15.3 yard per completion followed by Cary with 191 total yards and 23.9 yards per catch.

Those stats imply that the Raider defense should key in on Mitchell, Hooper, and Cary. Also with just 34 rushing yards on the season, it doesn’t look like Mitchell comes out of the pocket for option yards very often. This keeps him at least two dimensional and easier to handle by the Raider D. Also the Fighting Irish aren’t prone to turnovers – with just three total on the year – so a couple of forced fumbles or interceptions could rattle them.

On defense, White and company need to keep a careful eye on Hooper. He’s Houston County’s top tackler with 87 on the season including 43 solo tackles. He’s also been known to pick six the ball. He’s followed by Michell with 63 total tackles. Sophomore #14 sophomore Brody Rumfelt and #72 junior Cobey Chauncey are also Houston County’s top sackers. Moore County’s offensive line will need to keep them in check.

Kick off on Friday will take place at Doug Price Field at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available for $8 in advance on the Go Fans app or online. Raider fans can also buy tickets at the gate for $10. If you can’t attend in person, the Moore County High School Student Broadcasting Team will live stream the game on the NFHS Network. The Times will also live blog the game on our Facebook page.

Should Moore County get the W on Friday, they’ll move on to the winner of the West Carrol (5-4) versus Eagleville (6-4) game. •

{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.}