Ellwood, Keith set for first-ever meeting in region showdown

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ellwood Christian quarterback Jalen Furlow rolls out for a pass during last Thursday’s game against Holy Spirit at Memorial Stadium. Keith and Ellwood will meet for the first time ever on Friday in a region game. -- File Photo

Friday marks the first-ever meeting between a pair of local squads that could bud into a potential rivalry with region implications.

The Keith High School Bears (2-0, 1-0 Class 1A Region 3) will travel to Memorial Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. to face the Ellwood Christian Academy Eagles (2-0, 1-0 Class 1A Region 3) in a region game.

Mike Stokes, head football coach of Ellwood Christian Academy, said the first meeting between the Bears and Eagles has the potential to spark a rivalry for years to come.

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“It’s an area game — that’s the first significance of it. Second is bragging rights,” Stokes said. “It’s a good area game, good bragging rights and we’re just trying to make it into a good, clean rivalry.”

Bears head football coach Harry Crum said he’s expecting a hard-hitting battle in Friday’s game.

“They’re 2-0 and they’re averaging over 50 points a game, so just from that alone you can’t take them lightly,” Crum said. “I don’t take a team lightly anyway. We get ready for everybody just like we would be getting ready for the Pittsburg Steelers. I know they have a conglomeration of athletes on that defensive side. I don’t allow my boys to take them lightly. This is going to be a war.”

Stokes said the focus in practice for the Eagles has been trying to find ways to slow down the Bears’ signature wing-T offense.

“That’s what we’ve been focusing on — stopping their run and stopping the wing-T,” Stokes said. “Hopefully, our defense will keep playing good just like they’ve been playing. If they do, we’ll be okay.”

Crum said the Bears are looking to play tough defense and control the ball on Friday.

“Defensively, we hit, we hit and when we get through, we hit some more. Our kids love to hit and we’re a physical football team,” Crum said. “We just want to minimize turnovers offensively and play the type of ball we’re capable of playing.”

Stokes also said that controlling the football will be key in determining the victor on Friday.

“We’ve got to control the ball and try and keep Keith’s offense on the bench,” Stokes said. “If we can get some good, long drives and eat up the clock, that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Crum said the Bears will be looking to wear down their opponent with a consistent running game.

“We’re just going to have to play hard, play consistent, don’t turn the ball over, and just play that Keith style of football,” Crum said. “We just grind it out until they can’t take it no more. We’re going to sweep ‘til they weep. That’s what it’s all about.”