GAME OF THE WEEK: ‘Battle for the Stump’ Always a Classic

Ah, after an unexpectedly good week of football, we’ll be rewarded again with the long-awaited Battle for the Stump in Pikeville.

Ranked No. 4 in the State (Class 3A), the Indians come in off a bye week while the Warriors held their own against Polk County in a Region 3-2A showdown.  And no matter the statlines, records, or paper conclusions, this is a rivalry that gets better with age.

The last eight matchups have been decided by an average of a touchdown with both teams amassing a 4-4 record over than span.  It’s been one of the more competitive rivalries in the area, but it has taken wild swings, currently with a 3-game win streak in the Indians’ favor.  And the craziness will continue to ensue as the game creeps closer.

Back in 2014, a referee and player were injured in separate incidents minute apart and delayed the last four game-time minutes by over an hour of real time.  The Indians ended the long regular season streak against the Warriors, which dated back to 2008, with a 29-20 win at home on a late touchdown pass.  On back to 2010, Sequatchie County, after losing to the Warriors in the regular season, came back with a long touchdown rush to send the game to overtime.  A made PAT won the game for the Indians as they headed to the second round.

The Warriors held a long streak, back to 2008, but there were some too-close-for-comfort games including their 21-14 win in 2012, 21-17 victory in 2011, a 34-28 win in 2010 and a 35-31 win in Dunlap back in 2009.  The Warriors have a history of making paper-chalking games into thrillers and upsets, so don’t count out Bledsoe County Friday night against the Indians.

It’s due to be a dogfight in Pikeville, but the question is, who will take home the infamous piece of a tree when the last whistle blows.

RIVALRY RECAP:  LAST EIGHT MATCHUPS

Indians 21, Warriors 0; September 25, 2015

Indians 35, Warriors 34; October 3, 2014

Indians 29, Warriors 20; October 4, 2013

Warriors 21, Indians 14; September 28, 2012

Warriors 21, Indians 17; September 30, 2011

Indians 35, Warriors 34; November 5, 2010 (1st Round 3A Playoffs)

Warriors 34, Indians 28; October 1st, 2010

Warriors 35, Indians 31, October 2, 2009

PLACE YOUR BETS

DISCLAIMER:  These are not actual spreads or odds, and cannot be used in kind of sports betting context.

The Spread:  Sequatchie County (-17.5) vs. Bledsoe County

Odds to Win:  Sequatchie County 3 to 2; Bledsoe County 4 to 1

Over/Under (Total Points):  (64 Points)

Breaking Down the Bets:  ‘The Spread’ is based on who is favored in the matchup and by how many points.  ‘Odds to Win’ are the odds for a certain team to win that game and is not related to the odds of ‘The Spread.’  The ‘Over/Under’ is how many points both teams are expected to combine for, unrelated to ‘The Spread’ or “Odds to Win.’  These betting lines are simply to display what Vegas would perceive the matchup at and cannot be used in any sports betting enterprise.

QUICK HIT STORYLINES

Bledsoe County will look to bust a three game losing streak against the Indians

Sequatchie County comes in Ranked No. 4 in the TN Class 3A AP Poll, No. 1 in GSV

Josh OWensby will try for his first win against the Indians as a head coach

Both teams, combined, have given up an average of 23 points per game this season

INSIDE THE FILM ROOM

Defense comes at premium for these two teams, giving up a lot of points throughout the early part of the season.  And although both teams have had very different paths to Week Six, offense has been the storyline.  The Warriors will look to come out in spread formations with pro tendencies.  Chaise Sorrow has really come out of his shell, mastering his air attack against Whitwell and Polk County in weeks four and five.  Balancing out the attack is senior tailback Joseph Gore who couldn’t be stopped Friday night as he continued to fight past Wildcat defenders.

The Indians base out of the old-school wing-T with a new-school flavor, adding in different sets and formations as they go along.  Look for some shotgun and passing situations, especially early as they try to overpower Bledsoe County from the get-go.  The balance is more shifted toward the run, and, if you let them, Caine’s team will run over you all night.  They have a tendency to let steams stick around, and that’s not healthy in a key rivalry matchup.  They’ll have to score late as well as early to have success in Pikeville.

GAMEDAY GRADES

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KEY ON-THE-FIELD MATCHUPS

Joseph Gore vs. Indian Linebacker Corp

Joseph Gore was unstoppable last week against Polk County, but he may have more trouble against a stout and All-State Linebacker corp including Kyle Cates and Hunter Davenport.  They’ve been know to stop down-the-middle threats as well outside-the-tackle rushes.  The side-to-side coverage has increased from last year, so expect a tight fit for the Bledsoe County offense.

Ethan Barker vs. Warrior Secondary

Much like Sorrow, Barker has honed his game as well.  Although, a lot of what he does originates from play-action, he can still get the ball downfield.  With targets like Kyle Cates and Austin Stevens, the Indians could be a threat in both facets down the stretch.  Either way, there could be a lot of action through the air, unusual of two Valley teams.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sequatchie County Indians

Ethan Barker (Junior Quarterback)

Hunter Davenport (Senior Linebacker/Fullback)

Kyle Cates (Senior Linebacker/Tight End)

Austin Stevens (Senior Halfback)

Gabe Jackson (Senior Lineman)

Bledsoe County Warriors

Chaise Sorrows (Senior Quarterback)

Joseph Gore (Senior Halfback/Cornerback)

Harley Smith (Junior Offensive Guard/Nose Guard)

Kevin Whitson (Junior Linebacker/Tight End)

Derrick Pursley (Senior Linebacker/Offensive Lineman)

(Cole Angel Defensive Tackle/Tight End)

Contact Chandler Morrison at TheSpearSportsBlog@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter@RCS_Chandler!

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