Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 11, 2012

Raceland, Fairview a full-speed collision

Rams, Eagles eager to answer questions

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

WESTWOOD — High-speed chases. Explosive weapons. Physical battles.

You can’t even leave for a quick restroom break in a movie packed with those ingredients.

Hollywood certainly knows how to deliver hard-hitting, edge-of-your-seat action.

Will a little place called Westwood? Will you have to hold it until halftime?

On Friday night at 7:30, area football fans will find out if the feature lives up to the trailer as Class A-ranked Fairview and Raceland renew its rivalry. It might be the one of the most entertaining installments yet in a series that Raceland leads 31-10 overall — the Eagles have won two straight.

Ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll, Fairview (7-0) is the last undefeated team remaining in Class A. Raceland (6-1) suffered its lone loss against Class 4A No. 6 Ashland in Week 2.

The winner will be crowned District 7 champions and will be in the driver’s seat for home field advantage throughout most of the playoffs.

“I envision a good, clean football game,” said Fairview coach Nathan McPeek. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere. If you don’t get there by 7, you may not get in.”

Under the current format, this showdown might just serve as Round 1 of a two-round fight. The two could meet in the regional finals, and if that happens, the winner of Friday’s game would host that postseason matchup.

“This is what high school football is meant to be,” said Raceland coach T.J. Maynard. “This is what I like about playing area teams. It brings a lot of fan interest and a lot of excitement in our area.”

For Class A schools, Fairview and Raceland are chock full of speed, skill and size.

Going in that order, Fairview has set the field ablaze with Elijah King. He has accounted for more than 700 yards of offense and 15 touchdowns in just four games. Teammate Mason Rutherford, a fellow Huntington High transfer, has 12 catches for 253 yards.

Chris Brewer is well on his way to a third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season (756) and Devon Turner has amassed 624 yards on the ground to go with 12 touchdowns.

“That’s what makes those two additions (Rutherford and King) really hard to defend,” Maynard said. “Brewer and Turner were already weapons in themselves. It makes them that much more dangerous.”

As for Elijah King — the senior has a younger brother (Isaiah) also playing — specifically, Maynard has seen enough on film to know that he’s a constant threat.

“Very very very good,” said Raceland’s coach. “He’s a guy that every time he touches the football there’s a chance he’s going to the house with it.

“Watching them, there’s not a lot of second- and third-down things to chart. They get big chunks of yardage.”

King suffered a mild ankle sprain in last week’s rout of Paintsville, but McPeek said he should be ready to go on Friday.

Freshman quarterback Alex Roy stepped behind center about a month ago, and has also been an offensive positive for McPeek.

“I’m very impressed with what he’s done along with all of our young guys,” McPeek said. “He’s calm, cool and collected most of the time.”

McPeek has his own concerns, though, with Raceland junior quarterback Adam Elkins, running backs Daylin Beach and Zack Litteral, and do-it-all sophomore Connor Messer, among others.

Beach leads the team in rushing (648 yards) and touchdowns (18), while Elkins leads the Rams in passing (1,033 yards, 14 TDs, five INTs).

Each team has put up at least 50 points in four straight games. Raceland’s enjoyed five 50-plus point outputs in a row.

Much of it has to do with the unusual size and skill across the board on the offensive lines for both teams.

“I think that’s the best part of their football team,” McPeek said of Raceland. “That’s where the game’s going to be won at. It’s that way in a lot of games, but especially in big games, it’s going to come down to who’s the most physical ball club.”

Strength of schedule sways in favor of Raceland, which stood toe-to-toe with Ashland for a half before giving up 21 unanswered points in the second and losing 42-19.

“For us, they’re the second-best team we’ve played behind Ashland,” Maynard said. “For them, we’ve been better than other teams they’ve played.”

Intensity and emotion may reach season-high levels, but both coaches said if those feelings are used correctly, good results can happen.

“What you try to do as a coach is channel that emotion and energy to the game,” Maynard said. “Don’t wear yourself out with the hype leading up to it and hype in pregame. Hooping and hollering has never won a football game.”

“Any time you’re talking about a rival game, you’re obviously going to be ready to go,” McPeek said. “It’ll be an interesting intensity overall, with how many people in the stands, with how many people there overall. It’s a good opportunity for two high school programs and the kids to be involved in something special.”