Updated Thu, Sep 26, 2013 1:01 pm
Last year when the Gallia Academy Blue Devils and the Vinton County Vikings met, Vinton County was a measly 1-4. This year, it’s a completely different story. The Vikings come into Friday’s game at 3-1 and seeking revenge against the offensively strong Blue Devils, who are also 3-1.
Getting that revenge will be no easy task for Vinton County, as they face an offense that has outscored their opponents 168-56, since their week one loss to Athens.
“It all starts with Wade Jarrell,” Vinton County head coach Justy Burleson said. “He’s the trigger man. He does a great job on that read option. We have to disrupt that read option first.”
The reigning Gridiron Glory Player of the Year, Jarrell is not the only player who will cause some havoc for the Vikings defense.
“We have so many skilled positions that we can keep giving the ball too,” Blue Devils coach Wade Bartholomew said. “We got to keep spreading the love.”
Gallia Academy’s defense has also turned around since its week one loss to Athens. The Blue Devils held Rock Hill to 2 points and Marietta to 16. Bartholomew is prepared to face a determined Viking offense.
“They are tough-minded, physical offense,” Bartholomew said. “We need to keep tackling when we have our opportunities and controlling the line of scrimmage. We need to keep playing hard and getting to the ball as a team.”
Vinton County is looking to prove it belongs in the conversation as one of the top teams in the TVC-Ohio. The Vikings currently sit in second place, right behind undefeated Athens. Burleson believes his squad has what it takes to pull out a win.
“We’re going to do what we do,” he said. “We’re not the fastest or biggest team, but we have an effective ground game. We need to put drives together as well as sustain drives.”
The run game Burleson referenced has two key cogs in fullback Tim Ousley and tailback J.T. Hayes. Ousley and Hayes have combined for 588 yards on the ground and six touchdowns through four games. The two feature backs are splitting carries and production virtually down the middle, as their per-game averages are only a half-yard apart.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings rank No. 1 in the TVC-Ohio in total defense, allowing just 159 yards per game. But while stingy with regard to total yardage, the Vinton County defense has allowed opponents to score at a more average rate, conceding just above 20 points per contest in four non-league games. Gallia Academy boasts one of the most exposive offenses the Vikings will face in 2013.
Friday’s matchup will certainly be an exciting game between two of the top teams in their respective conferences. But Vinton County has yet to beat a team with a winning record. Friday’s 7:30 kickoff against a hot Blue Devils squad will be a chance for the Vikings to prove whether they can compete for a league title.
As for Gallia Academy, week 5 marks the first time Bartholomew’s club will play away from home this season.
Perhaps Burleson said it best: “This game is going to come down to the wire.”
Avery T. Jennings contributed to this report