After a 52-20 shellacking last week by Battle Ground Academy, the Coffee County Central High School Rad Raiders will be looking for fire and emotion to help them compete against the Rhea County Golden Eagles Friday.
Throughout the pre-season and last week’s opener, CHS head coach Lee Davis has said that Coffee County’s size and skill level require that the Raiders be passionate to compete. That passion will be especially important against Rhea County, which Davis describes as “very, very big and very, very good.”
Friday’s meeting at Evensville will be the home opener for the Golden Eagles, who began the pre-season with scrimmages against Cleveland, Ooltewah and Kingston.
In addition to being the first game of the season for Rhea County it will also be the first regular-season game for new head coach Mark Pemberton. Pemberton went 11-2 last season at Class 6A Riverdale and won a state title at Knoxville Catholic in 2008. In two decades of coaching he has compiled a 163-69 record. With 11 seniors at Rhea County this year, Pemberton is not looking for a building season but has said he expects the team to begin winning immediately.
The Raiders will be looking to build on the few bright spots from last week’s blowout. Quarterback Peyton Meeker completed 16 of 32 passes for 197 yards, Cole Hawkins and Chris Vaughn combined for 10 receptions and 97 yards, and Cody Howes was explosive around the outside with 39 yards on seven carries and 55 yards on four receptions.
Coffee County is also hoping that the defense that shined in pre-season scrimmages will show up Friday against fullback Jacob York and Rhea County’s powerful wing t offense.
On top of playing a bigger, stronger team, Coffee County will have a couple of logistical adjustments to make: riding on the bus for more than two hours to Evensville, and a playing on artificial turf, which Rhea County installed before the beginning of last season.
Friday’s game will not be a district contest. As Coffee County moved out of District 6 for this season, Rhea County moved in, along with Crossville’s Stone Memorial. The Raiders this season compete as one of two 6A teams in District 8-AAA.
Kickoff for tonight’s game is at 6:30 CDT.