Predators building rivalry with Chiefs
Building a football rivalry isn’t the easiest thing to do for a school like Fox Creek.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the Predators – it’s more an issue of enrollment and geography. Plus, consider Fox Creek’s recent jump from the Class A to AA level in addition to how South Carolina High School League realignment seems to land the Predators in vastly different regions every two years lately.
That can all make it difficult to keep an opponent on the schedule on a yearly basis.
But Fox Creek head coach Derrick Quinn thinks his program is building a rivalry with McCormick, the Predators’ opponent Friday in the Aiken Standard Game of the Week.
“I think so,” he said of developing a rivalry with the Chiefs. “With Coach (Russ) Schneider being at Fox Creek before going to McCormick a couple years ago, and we’ve just played them every year since I’ve been here – I suppose the only team that we have played consistently since I’ve been here – I think it is kind of a rival. We have a hard time finding a rival. I think that’s just kind of building toward a rival-type game.”
Friday will be the teams’ seventh meeting. While the Chiefs haven’t appeared on the Predators’ schedule the most often – that would be Wagener-Salley, who they just played for the 11th time – they do have the kind of connections that make it more than just a forced rivalry.
Consider Schneider, who was Fox Creek’s first head football coach and held the job from 2005 through the 2014 season, when his Predators were undefeated Region 1-A champions and locked up the league title with a win over McCormick.
Flip the calendar forward a year, and Quinn had Fox Creek in position to potentially send the region title race to a tiebreaker. All the Predators had to do was beat then-unbeaten McCormick – and Schneider, the Chiefs’ new head coach.
They did. In two years sharing a region, the teams faced one another in what were essentially two region championship games. That’s one way to start building a rivalry.
“I think it just kind of started from there,” Quinn said. “They bring a good crowd. I know it’ll be a good atmosphere, and all that kind of stuff.”
The McCormick game is a matchup Quinn is hoping to see continue, in large part because Fox Creek isn’t particularly close to any schools of a similar size. He noted that there was a rivalry-type atmosphere for the Predators’ games against Gray Collegiate in the previous two seasons, but that game isn’t on the schedule anymore.
Schneider started a rivalry with Augusta Christian – the Battle for the Paddle – but that’s been off the schedule since Fox Creek’s 45-6 win in 2015.
A holdover from the previous region is Saluda, which at around 45 minutes away is about as close as it gets for Fox Creek, but those past games didn’t have the same feel as the ones against McCormick have.
Of course, there’s also the opportunity for Fox Creek to build some new rivalries in Region 2-AA – Silver Bluff is the closest and only school within 30 miles, and Saluda and Batesburg-Leesville are both around 35 miles away – especially if they surprise their new foes.
“With this new region, I guess we’ll have to make some noise and make some rivals,” Quinn said with a laugh.