From one rivalry to the next go Ashland and Russell.
However, this one fits the rivalry mold to a T.
T not standing for Tomcat or Wing-T, but tradition.
The matchup’s unequivocal tradition and inescapable proximity between schools have made it extraordinarily special. The Red Devils and Tomcats have met every season since 1959.
Fastforward 53 years, and you have Friday night at Putnam Stadium, which Russell hopes doesn’t turn out like the last four meetings, all losses of 18 or more points.
“I don’t believe in what you did in the past,” said Ashland 10th-year coach Leon Hart. “We’ve had some tight, great ballgames with them in the previous nine years.”
Speaking of great ballgames, Ashland’s 21-14 win over George Washington this past Friday gave fans a glimpse of an intense rivalry blossoming.
Ironton’s speed was too much for Russell in a 47-21 game, as the Red Devils uncharacteristicallyrelented a staggering 493 yards on the ground — flashy senior Patrick Lewis piled up 247 of them.
Ashland (3-0) has been solid in both rushing and passing the ball to this point — junior QB Aaron Elam has yet to throw an interception while Quinton Baker and Evan Yongue have together provided eight TD runs.
After reviewing Friday night’s film, Russell coach Ivan McGlone related his thoughts in as simplistic a manner as possible.
“We have to tackle better,” said the 74-year-old. “We didn’t wrap very well (against Ironton).”
McGlone was satisfied with his team’s 268 total yards of offense — 108 of them being through the air on 14 attempts by Lance Evans.
“Offensively, we were OK,” McGlone said. “If we just could’ve stopped them two or three times ...”
Ashland didn’t burn up the field by any means, with 195 yards of offense, but each of the 195 were hard-fought, and the Tomcats played a physical four quarters.
“We fought from behind, and didn’t get discouraged,” Hart said. “We became more determined.”
Determination drove the ’Cats’ defense to an incredible second-half effort. It emphatically halted the Patriots’ rushing game, recoiling it for negative three yards.
McGlone, while possessing a good front line himself, noted Ashland’s big boys as a top concern.
“They have a big line on both sides,” McGlone said. “Defensively, they’re a hair better than last year.”
Elam, sacked just once last week, has quickly found comfort behind his experienced offensive line, a key reason for his pick-less year so far.
“He’s had time in every ballgame,” Hart said. “It’s a blessing for a young quarterback to have an experienced line. They’ve been through the wars.
“(Elam) made three big throws for us (last Friday),” added Ashland’s coach. “That helped make a big difference. He had a couple really nice runs, too.”
Sandwiched between GW and Ironton, Russell (1-1) will not be overlooked no matter how much the Red Devils lost by last week.
“It’s hard not to get up for Russell. This has been Russell week at Ashland,” Hart said. “This game means a lot to both communities. It’s a healthy rivalry. We get along all year long except for one day.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.
Russell, Ashland meet on Friday
From one rivalry to the next go Ashland and Russell.
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