Harrison will look to get its Region 6AAAAAA schedule off to a strong start Friday when it hosts River Ridge.

The teams have been near the opposite ends of the region standings in recent years, with the Hoyas (2-0) having won the three previous matchups by a combined score of 153-24, but first-year River Ridge coach Mike Collins said expectations are high for Friday's game.

“We feel pretty good and optimistic,” Collins said. “The guys are excited, and they’re getting better every day. We still have some things to work on, but I think we showed a lot of good things we can start to build off.”

River Ridge (0-1) was unable to come away with a win in the opener against Etowah, but there were promising signs that the Knights will move the ball better than they did last year. Amehre Morrison totaled 131 yards and a touchdown on 22 touches, while quarterback Chase Begin completed 12 of 22 passes for 146 yards.

“They’re going to be hard to stop,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said. “They’re in a little more of a speed option this year. Coach Collins is putting his print on that team. They’re well-coached, and they’re going to get better as the season goes on. They have some athletes we have to watch out for.”

In Harrison, River Ridge will face a tougher defense this week.

Led by Marcus Bleazard and Ryan Smith up front and Victor Pless on the back end, the Hoyas have only allowed 10 points in two games this season.

“We just have a veteran group,” Dickmann said. “A lot of these guys have been playing a lot of snaps for us for the last three years. They’re success hasn’t really surprised us. I think we kind of knew what we had coming into the season.”

When Harrison has the ball, quarterback Gavin Hall (272 passing yards) will look to spread the ball around to Jay Ziglor, who leads a balanced rushing attack, and Marques Owens, who leads an equally balanced receiving corps.

“We need discipline,” Collins said. “They have a lot of guys they can get the ball to on just about any play. We need everyone out there watching their responsibilities, and once they get going, we have to get a lot of hats to the ball and tackle better than we have been.”

Linebacker Scotty Rutherford impressed in the Knights’ season opener and will lead the unit looking for force the Hoyas into some mistakes on offense.

Harrison has already produced 82 points this season, but Dickmann said his offense will need to clean things up to keep their points-per-game average at more than 40.

“We took a step forward offensively last week,” he said. “We still had a few mistakes, penalties, dropped passes and tipped passes. We just need to clean those things up if we want to compete for a region championship in this region this year.”

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