By SAM McGAW
The Franklin Rebels look to rebound from their season-opening loss with a matchup at Riverdale this Friday, while Battle Ground Academy returns home to take on Friendship Christian.
See below for a closer look at those matchups:
Franklin (0-1) at Riverdale (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday
On the heels of a gut-wrenching 28-24 loss to Centennial, the Franklin Rebels enter Week 2 focused on playing a full four quarters.
The Rebels gave up two unanswered touchdowns in the final 73 seconds of last week’s loss.
With a road contest against one of the state’s best teams in Riverdale this Friday, the Rebels know they can’t afford another slip-up.
“The game never comes down to one play,” Franklin head coach Donnie Webb said. “It never even should’ve gotten to the point where they even needed an onside kick. We have to clean up the little things that allowed the game to get to that point.”
Riverdale cruised to a 47-14 win over Ooltewah last week.
The Warriors’ offense is led by quarterback Christian Souffront and running backs Savion Davis and Michael Scruggs.
Souffront accounted for most of Riverdale’s scoring last week. He threw for 64 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 79 yards and two scores.
Davis picked up 106 yards and a TD on 14 carries.
“They have speed and more speed,” Webb said. “Their quarterback is a really good athlete. He’s going to cause some problems for us. They’re also going to try to get Davis and Scruggs out in the open. They’re doing a lot of things to get those guys the ball in space.”
Preventing explosive plays is a major focal point for the Rebels.
The final two touchdowns they allowed last week were on throws of 66 and 34 yards. They also gave up an 86-yard punt return touchdown.
They allowed only 97 total yards of offense before the final three and a half minutes.
“We have to be sound and limit the space Riverdale has to make plays in,” Webb said. “We have to fly to the football and make sure we wrap up.”
Franklin’s offense leans on a steady dose of the run and the occasional shot downfield.
Quarterbacks Carter Hendry and Wes Patterson and running back Mitch Rossi lead the ground portion of the team’s triple-option attack.
Rossi racked up a team-high 122 rushing yards and one touchdown last week, while Patterson had 69 rushing yards and Hendry picked up 22.
“I feel like we can have success against anyone, we just have to finish drives,” Webb said. “It goes back to the little things of making sure our assignments are right and staying the course. We have to make them be sound on defense by running all phases of our offense.”
When opposing safeties begin cheat up to stop run, that’s when Rebels utilize their speed on the outside with receivers Alex Gaca and J.P. Batarseh.
Gaca had four catches for 80 yards last week, including a 55-yard touchdown reception. Batarseh’s lone catch went 78 yards for a score.
The duo will be challenged by Riverdale’s talented secondary, which features one of the top cornerbacks in the country in Georgia Tech commit Gentry Bonds.
“It’s probably going to be the most athletic secondary we’ll see all year,” Webb said. “They’re very active players. They can one place to another really fast.”
Friendship Christian (0-1) at Battle Ground Academy (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday
The Wildcats make their home debut this Friday when they welcome Friendship Christian (0-1).
After it had to survive a late surge to defeat Goodpasture 21-14 last week, BGA enters this week’s matchup with a goal of playing a complete game.
“We try to learn from every game and every opportunity, and at the end of the day we were excited to come away with a win,” BGA head coach Roc Batten said. “We had a really good first half and had some miscues in the second half. We have to do a better a job, in terms of corrections. It was our first full game, but we have to clean up some things heading into Week 2.”
Drew Martin and Jake Holloway both saw time at quarterback for the Wildcats in the victory.
Martin completed 9-of-16 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown, while Holloway went 4 of 5 for 72 yards and a touchdown.
“Both of them did some really good things,” Batten said. “They both have some different skill sets that give us a great opportunity to move the ball. In some areas we feel like they both have to be smarter, in terms of making better decisions here and there, but overall I think they did some positive things for us.”
The duo’s top target through the air was junior wide receiver Jack Jewell, who hauled in four catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Jewell and his quarterbacks have a chance to build on their success against an FCS defense that struggled defending the pass a week ago.
The Commanders gave up 322 yards and three touchdowns through the air in last week’s 37-29 loss against Davidson Academy.
“We just have to execute,” Batten said. “We can’t have negative plays to start off a series and we have to get better on third-down conversions.”
Sophomore running back Jaylen Frierson leads BGA’s ground attack.
He carried the ball nine times for 65 yards and a touchdown last week. He also had a 20-yard reception.
Batten expects Frierson and the offensive line to be challenged by Friendship Christian’s run defense.
“Their front-seven is very physical; they give you a lot of pressure,” he said. “They’re massive up front and they just really get after it. They do a lot of different things up front to disguise what they’re doing, and they do a lot of run stunts.”
The ability to stop the run will play a crucial role in BGA’s success on defense this week.
Friendship Christian rushed for 236 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries against DA.
“They’ve always been a team with a really good offensive line,” Batten said. “Their front is the foundation for them. Then, they have some really good skill guys in the backfield. They’re really tough and run between the tackles, but can also take it outside the tackles.”
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.