Six miles separate the campuses of Robert C. Byrd and Bridgeport High Schools and their rivalries in all sports are hotly contested and highly anticipated. The latest chapter in the gridiron series between the Indians and the Flying Eagles will send the winner to the state semifinals.
“What better way than to go and compete against your crosstown rival and try to move on to the next level of the playoffs and hopefully get a win against Bridgeport,” said Robert C. Byrd head coach Josh Gorrell.
“I think that’s a great attitude. It is great for both cities to be able to do this and come together and play Friday night.”
“What that tells you is that in this (Harrison) County and in this (Big 10) Conference there is pretty good football,” said Bridgeport head coach John Cole. “It also tells you that RCB has had some good football teams.”
This series has been dominated by the Indians over the last decade. Bridgeport has won the last eleven meetings, three of those have been playoff games since 2011. Eight weeks ago, Bridgeport rallied from ten points down with five minutes to play to win 41-35.
“Especially coming off the ball game we had the previous week (loss at Fairmont Senior). That was the most gratifying thing for our coaching staff, the way that the kids kept fighting,” Cole said.
“They have culture and tradition so they expect to win as well,” Gorrell said. “It is not like we handed them the ball game. They came out and won it. We’ve got to do things better to finish it off and if we do that we’ll be OK.”
This game features the career rushing leaders at each school. Both set the new marks two weeks ago. Bridgeport’s Jake Bowen is 58 yards short of a two-thousand yard senior season and RCB’s Ghovan Davidson is 28 yards past that plateau.
What makes the Flying Eagle rushing attack unique is the presence of Jeremiah King. The freshman has rushed for 1,039 yards, forming a talented backfield duo.
“When you add in the line that they have in front of them, the size and the strength and their blocking scheme is a little complicated,” Cole said. “They almost rushed for four hundred yards against us so we haven’t seen anything like that.”
RCB is the underdog but their week five performance serves notice that the gap has narrowed. Neither team has lost since and the Indian victory secured them a second playoff home game. The Flying Eagles are eager for the chance to post their first win in the series since 2010.
“We want to be positive and we want to be confident but we also want to make sure we’re doing things right and you have to have your mind about you,” Gorrell said.
“It does us no good to get too amped up and out of our minds. You’ve got to know what you’re doing and be prepared and that will determine a lot of what goes on Friday night.”