BGA (4-0) at USJ (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Through four weeks things have looked relatively easy for the Battle Ground Academy Wildcats.
With an average margin of victory of 24 points, no team has really competed with BGA since its Week 1 seven-point win over Goodpasture.
“Even in these victories we’ve had, there’s still so much room for us to improve,” BGA head coach Roc Batten said. “I think we keep them pretty grounded … we have a lot of areas we still need to get better at.”
The Wildcats’ dominance could all change in Week 5, though, as they travel to take on the equally impressive University School of Jackson Bruins.
USJ may have lost in Week 1 to First Assembly Christian, but in the Bruins’ last three games they have dominated opponents to win by an average of 37 points per game.
The leading force to the Bruins’ play in their last three contests has been their defense. USJ gave up just 20 points in their last three games combined and registered a shutout of Tipton-Rosemark Academy in Week 3.
“On defense they’re physical and create havoc,” Batten said. “They’ve dominated the last three games and really gotten after people.”
To counter the Bruins’ tough defense, the Wildcats could lean on their ability to turn in big plays offensively. In a win over Westview in Week 4, running back Kel Hawkins rushed just four times but had 138 yards and two touchdowns. He also had six catches for 49 yards.
They also hope quarterback Drew Martin can show the same poise he did against Westview last week. He completed 20-of-25 passes for 185 yards.
“He’s really getting better,” Batten said. “I thought he was really efficient and solid at Westview. I feel like we have a couple of guys we can get the ball to, and if he stays efficient and takes what the defense gives him and is patient within our system, he’ll allow our team to have success. And he’s been doing that.”
You can’t have an average margin of victory like USJ has without a terrific offense, either, and the Bruins have one.
Led by quarterback Jacob Buie (783 yards passing, eight touchdowns and six interceptions) and running back Trevor Spencer (58 rushes, 338 yards and nine TDs), USJ has averaged 40 points per game this season.
The Bruins have also been helped by their ability to create big plays on the outside. Receivers Wells Smith and Ryan Miller are both averaging more than 24 yards per reception this year.
“They’re a physical group,” Batten said. “They spread you out and run the ball and spread you out and throw it. We have to minimize their big plays.”
With both teams going into Friday used to winning big, something will have to break. Whoever wins the turnover and field position battles may just come away with the win.
“This is going to be one of those dogfights and the team that gives up the big plays and turnovers is going to be in trouble,” Batten said.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the University School of Jackson.