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Rivals battle in openers

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AJ will host Lancaster; IL to visit BHS

By Robert Howey

 

Rivalry clashes highlight the 2013 Lancaster County high school football season openers Friday, Aug. 30.

Andrew Jackson hosts Lancaster and Buford will be at home to battle Indian Land.

Kickoffs are set for 7:30 p.m.

Lancaster High School head coach Bennie McMurray said he expects an intense battle at AJ’s Volunteer Stadium.

“You have so many people on each side, players, coaches, fans and school administrators, who are involved day-in and day-out and week-in and week-out,” he said. “They know each other playing other sports, in the community, at school and in the churches. County pride is on the line.

“It makes for an interesting and exciting start to the season,” said McMurray, who is in his eighth Bruins-Vols contest. “There’s a lot of pride at stake and you expect nothing less than both sides going hard.”

McMurray said he was impressed with the Volunteer in their 7-0 win over McBee in the Founders Kickoff Classic at Buford on Friday night.

“They have a veteran, battled-tested quarterback in Kolby Whitley and he throws the football well,” McMurray said. “Their defense posted the only score with a big play and that’s always a confidence booster. I know AJ is going to play hard to the final whistle which is a common trait for them.

“I know we have to play well and eliminate the penalties and turnovers we had last week in our jamboree play. On defense, we have to be able to put pressure on Whitley and limit his time to find receivers.”

AJ coach David Moore said the Vols have to take care of business.

“Lancaster has a good quarterback and running back, but we can’t allow them to get started. It’s important to gang tackle and tackle well,” Moore said. “They have size and speed and more depth, but we have to go out there and play well for the duration.

“The key for us is to control the ball and keep it away from them,” Moore said. “We also have to stay away from the mistakes. We still have our share of young players out there, but we have to play heads-up football.”

Over at Buford, the Jackets and Warriors are set to battle in Lancaster County’s oldest football rivalry.

A year ago, Buford prevailed in both meetings, but BHS coach Mike Wells said the Jackets will face an improved Indian Land team.

“Indian Land is better than they were at this time last year,” Wells said. “They will come ready to play. When they went against Lancaster in the jamboree, they played hard and gave a quality effort. I think they had a few breakdowns there at the end, but until then, they were in the game. They have their share of weapons.

“For us, we can’t have penalties and we can’t have turnovers,” Wells said. “We have to be sound and protect the football.”

Indian Land coach Michael Mayer noted four keys for the Warriors.

“We need to keep Buford in third and long as much as we can,” Mayer said. “We have to have a good start, build on that and try to get up by two scores.

“We also have our share of young people playing, so overcoming first-game jitters is going to be a key,” he said. “Buford does a great job of controlling the football, so if we force a turnover, we have to take advantage and win the turnover battle.”