Panthers have tough test at home against Coal Grove

September 22, 2018

Chesapeake's Austin Browning (10) drives the ball past Fairland in 2017 in Proctorville, Ohio.

CHESAPEAKE — The Little Brown Jug is on the line along with the Ohio Valley Conference title hopes of both Chesapeake and Coal Grove when the teams tangle in a 7 p.m. Friday football game at the Panthers’ Phil Davis Field.

Coal Grove (3-1, 1-0) currently holds all the cards. Coach Evan Ferguson’s team is the defending OVC champion in football and brought the Little Brown Jug traveling trophy back to school last season with a 27-7 win over the Panthers at Patterson Field. Coal Grove has experience in its skill players with Nate Harmon, Aaron Music and Kyle Sites leading the way.

“Their skill players are the same they had last year,” Chesapeake head coach Andy Clark said. “Music has matured physically as well as a football player even more than when we

played them last year.

“Of course Harmon is their centerpiece.”

Harmon, the quarterback, has completed 31 of 50 pass attempts this season for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. His passing, however, is only a small portion of his game. Harmon is Coal Grove’s second-leading rusher behind Sites with 42 carries for 264 yards this year. He also plays defensive back where he has been known to create timely turnovers and give Coal Grove good field position.

When he runs, Harmon can be tough to tackle because of his athleticism. Tackling has been an issue for Chesapeake.

“The glaring thing for us is defensively is we’ve got to tackle better, especially with our perimeter guys and secondary,” Clark said. “We’ve got to start getting guys on the ground.”

Clark said he wants to get Austin Browning going on offense. Browning, a senior quarterback, is to the Panthers what Harmon is to Coal Grove. Browning is capable of beating teams with his arm and his legs, but lacks the skill position players Harmon has at his disposal.

Still Browning sees one area where he and the Panthers have an advantage.

“Tylan Huchinson. He’s 6-4 and can jump out of the stadium,” Browning said of his junior wide receiver. “Ill read the defense and if I don’t have anyone open then I’ll do it with my legs but if I have a guy open I’ll use my arm.”

The Hornets got their first league win of the year with an easy victory over South Point last Friday. Chesapeake was defeated at home by Gallia Academy, a loss Chesapeake took hard.

“We made the improvements we needed to,” senior linebacker Dillon Lunsford said. “The Gallipolis loss set a goal for us to get better.”

Chesapeake (2-2, 0-1) will attempt to be the first OVC team to beat Coal Grove since Fairland defeated the Hornets 34-22 Oct. 21, 2016. It’ll be Homecoming for Chesapeake and for Browning, Lunsford plus five other seniors it’ll be their last chance to bring the Little Brown Jug back to their home.

“A win will put our name where it was two years ago with the big dogs of the OVC,” Browning said.

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