By JOSH VARDAMAN
Father Ryan (3-3) at Spring Hill (4-2), 7 p.m. Friday
The Spring Hill Raiders and Father Ryan Fightin’ Irish both step out of region play this week for a matchup Friday night.
Both teams go into the contest fresh off region defeats in their previous games.
The Raiders were let down defensively against Giles County in Week 7. Behind running back Dontae Smith’s 248 rushing yards and three touchdowns, Spring Hill gained a respectable 376 yards of total offense. However, they let the Bobcats gain 554 total yards in the 56-39 defeat.
Father Ryan had a bye last week, but before that the Irish suffered a 21-10 defeat to Montgomery Bell Academy. Big Red running back Ty Chandler, a University of Tennessee commit, scored two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to hand Father Ryan the loss.
Friday’s matchup could come down to which defense steps up and starts defending the run.
Spring Hill gave up 244 yards on 44 rushing attempts a week ago against Giles County, while Father Ryan gave up 214 yards on 36 carries to the Big Red.
Smith (1,088 rushing yards, 12 total TDs) will look to again lead the Raiders against an Irish defense that has looked formidable this season at times. They are giving up just 16.6 points per game so far.
On the other side, Father Ryan will rely on a cast of backs to guide the rushing attack against a Spring Hill defense that has struggled, giving up 30.5 points per game this season. Running backs Jackson Byrd and Elton Nkwembe and quarterback Jay Shoop will lead the Irish.
In last year’s matchup, Father Ryan’s rushing attack proved too much for the Raiders. The Irish ran for 278 yards as a team in the 43-27 win. Smith did break the century mark for Spring Hill, though, rushing for 104 yards on 13 carries.