By Sam McGaw
Spring Hill at Summit, 7 p.m. Friday
Summit head coach Brian Coleman doesn’t want to put much stock in one game. However, when factoring in the high expectations surrounding his team this season, he knows it would be significant for his team to open the season with a win over Spring Hill Friday.
“It’s non-region, but it’s an important football game for us,” Coleman said. “They’ve won the last two years. It’s important for us to gauge where we’re at, especially if we feel like we’re progressing as a football program from year to year.”
Summit gave up 349 rushing yards in last season’s 27-15 defeat against the Raiders.
Current Rutgers quarterback Tylin Oden was responsible for 208 of those rushing yards, as well as two passing touchdowns and one rushing score.
While Oden is gone, the Raiders still have a dynamic threat in the backfield in junior running back Dontae Smith.
Smith recorded 1,122 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last season. He averaged 10.7 yards per carry.
“We’re very scared about him,” Coleman stated. “We’re going to have to make him work for it As fast as he is, he can easily break a 60-, 70-, 80-yard run. We have to limit the big plays and try to gang tackle him, because he breaks a lot of tackles.”
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Michael Zakrzewski and backs Tai Carter and Tyler Palmer lead Summit’s wing-T attack against a Spring Hill defense that allowed 37.5 points per game a year ago.
The Spartans expect to see a much-improved Raiders’ unit under new head coach Jay Emmons.
“They’re big up front and they have very active outside linebackers,” Coleman said. “They have a very athletic secondary, but they’re going to have to come up in run support pretty fast. We just have to pick our spots and do the best we can to run the ball down the field.”
Battle Ground Academy at Goodpasture, 7 p.m. Friday
Past success doesn’t mean a thing to the Battle Ground Academy Wildcats.
BGA kicks off the season Friday with a road matchup against Goodpasture — a team it has dominated in each of the past two seasons.
Goodpasture, which hasn’t won a game since Nov. 8, 2013, has been outscored by BGA 87-10 in their past two season-opening bouts.
Running backs Jaylen Frierson and Joseph Pasley lead the Wildcats against a Cougars’ defense that allowed 36.3 points per game last season.
Defensively, BGA is tasked with stopping Goodpasture’s wing-T attack.
Goodpasture averaged 6.7 points per game last season.
Linebackers Frierson and Julian Craig are expected to lead the front-seven, while safety Bo Jewell and cornerback Kel Hawkins bring veteran leadership to the secondary.