A game that came down to the final play last season will have added meaning this week as River Ridge travels to Creekview in the premier matchup for Cherokee County.
Creekview used a goal-line stand in the final moments to defeat River Ridge 14-6 last year. The eight-point margin of victory was the closest in series history, and this year’s game sets up for another nail-biter when River Ridge again travels to Creekview.
Creekview (4-1, 2-0) posted its second straight shutout last Friday with a 24-0 win over Sequoyah. The Grizzlies’ have allowed 5.8 points per contest, by far the best in both Cherokee County and Region 7AAAAAA. The numbers are even more impressive when looking at the points the Grizzlies’ defense have surrendered (20), which amounts to four points per game.
River Ridge coach Mike Collins said he knows what to expect.
“They’re just a hard-nosed, very confident group every year,” Collins said of Creekview. “It’s very apparent watching them on film that they fly around on defense, and you’ve got to earn everything you get against them.”
Creekview linebacker Grant Anderson continues to anchor the unit, but Sam Minozzi and Isaac Hubert have also become integral pieces for the Grizzlies. Along with Anderson, Minozzi and Hubert are also in the top five in the county in tackles for loss and sacks.
Offensively, Creekview continues to rely on up a strong running game and play-action passing. The combination of quarterback Brody Rhodes and running back Tyler Stevens is averaging 139 rushing yards per game, while the Grizzles’ passing game continues to trend upward week by week.
Coming off a 21-14 win at Riverwood, River Ridge (5-0, 2-0) is off to its best start in program history. The Knights lead both Cherokee County and Region 7AAAAAA in points per game (36) and have one of the most dynamic players in the state in their backfield.
Junior running back Amehre Morrison finished with 273 yards and three touchdowns last Friday, and through five games, he has 1,099 rushing yards (9.7 average) and 15 rushing touchdowns to lead Class AAAAAA.
Equally as integral has been the Knights’ offensive line of Cam Cochran, Yturralde Telmo, Jack Senay, Jackson Hall and Cal Begin.
“Unsung heroes,” Collins said. “They enjoy it when Amehre gets the accolades, and they just appreciate the opportunity to work every week.”
The offensive line has also protected Knights’ quarterback Carson Lathem in the play-action passing game. Lathem has completed 61% of his passes, with Riley Caines and Jackson Head tied for the team lead in receptions with 15 apiece.
Creekview coach Trevor Williams said facing Morrison and the Knights’ offense will certainly present challenges.
“It’s going to take all 11 guys,” Williams said. “You can draw it up however you want, but you’ve got to make those tackles because (Morrison) can make you miss in tight spaces. It’s not just him. Their quarterback is playing great, and they have some guys on the outside. It’s a great challenge and one I think our guys will be excited for.”
River Ridge’s defense has been effective this season as well. Scotty Rutherford leads the team in tackles (50), while Hunter Deriso leads the team in tackles for loss (9) and sacks (4).
“Good programs win in October,” Williams said. “Both teams have earned the right to make this one a big game.”