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Bruins, Vols face elite foes

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By Robert Howey

Lancaster and Andrew Jackson will be battling the elite in week nine high school football play this week.The Bruins will challenge No. 7 Rock Hill on Thursday night, while AJ hosts third-rated Central High School of Pageland on Friday.In the only other game involving county teams, Buford and Indian Land tangle in their second clash this season on Friday night, but this one counts in Region III-A football play.The Lancaster-Rock Hill game was originally slated to be played Friday, but moved to Thursday with the forecast of rain for Friday and Saturday.“Rock Hill High officials indicated it has had some gates hurt by rain this season and they felt this game would be a good gate with two teams close by and they wanted to have it on a night for fair weather, so it was moved to Thursday night,” LHS athletic director Mark Strickland said.Lancaster, 6-2, 1-1, will challenge a talented team in the Bearcats, 7-1, 2-0.“Rock Hill has its share of speed on both sides of the football,” Lancaster High School head coach Bennie McMurray said. “We have to find a way to neutralize that speed this week.”The Bearcats’ only loss came to Rock Hill city rival Northwestern, which has also handed Lancaster one of its two defeats this season.“Rock Hill is very deserving of its ranking and they’re a well-coached football team,” McMurray said. “They won’t make a lot of mistakes and beat themselves.“That means we have to be on top of our game,” he said. “Last week we had solid play from our defense, offense and special teams. We will need that again Thursday.”The Bruins are coming off a 13-10 overtime road win over Blythewood.“That was a quality win and we hope to use the momentum of that victory to boost us as we head into our game this week,” McMurray said.AJ, fresh off an exciting 10-6 road win over No. 6 Columbia High School highlighted by a game-ending goal-line stand, faces an unbeaten team in Central of Pageland, 8-0.The Vols are 4-4, including a 2-1 Conference IV-AA mark.“Central certainly is a good football team,” AJ coach Louis Clyburn said. “They have their system and stick with it. They will run right at you.”Clyburn said the Vols will have to play well in all phases.“We need a complete game,” he said. “They will run it right at you, so we will have to play well and execute. We also have to have some success out of our offense.”The AJ-Central game is Vols “orange-out night,” with all AJ fans asked to wear orange for the game.When Buford and Indian Land battle Friday night, each team will be looking to rebound from disappointing league losses.Buford, 3-5, 1-4, is coming off an 18-0 homecoming loss to McBee, while Indian Land, 3-5, 2-2, dropped a 19-6 setback to Lewisville.BHS coach Mike Wells is expecting a better IL team than the team the Jackets defeated 14-6 in their opener.“Indian Land has played better as the year has moved on,” Wells said. “They play hard and get after it. The first time we played, we won 14-6, but they had a touchdown called back, too.“They key for us is to hold on to the football, avoid killer penalties and tackle well on defense.”Indian Land assistant coach David Sweem, subbing for Warriors’ head coach Mike Mayer who has been away from the team due to the death of his mother over the weekend, said the Warriors need a win to boost their playoff hopes.“Both teams are coming off games which they really didn’t play real well, so I expect a tough game because the teams look forward to this game,” Sweem said. “Buford is well-coached and very scrappy. I look for a game to go down to the wire.”Sweem said Warriors’ offense needs to pick up its play.“We need more offensive consistency,” he said. “We need to play mistake-free football because some crucial mistakes hurt us the last time we played Buford.”Mayer is expected to return to the team today.“It’s been a tough time for Mike and I know he will be glad to be back with us,” Sweem said.