High School Sports

Red Devils, Lions keep focus on title, not rivalry

Lewisville has a tandem of ball-carriers to depend on when the Lions take on arch-rival Great Falls Friday. Front row (l-r): Tirrelle Simpson, Timothy McCullough, Elijah Johnson. Middle row: Dion Foster, Antwan Robinson, Iwanza Colvin, Dennis Dunham, Isaiah Johnson. Back row: Darius Archie.
Lewisville has a tandem of ball-carriers to depend on when the Lions take on arch-rival Great Falls Friday. Front row (l-r): Tirrelle Simpson, Timothy McCullough, Elijah Johnson. Middle row: Dion Foster, Antwan Robinson, Iwanza Colvin, Dennis Dunham, Isaiah Johnson. Back row: Darius Archie.

RICHBURG -- Throw the rivalry out the window.

This one's about so much more.

"That hasn't even been mentioned," Lewisville coach Floyd Drum answered about his Lions' impending matchup with arch-rival Great Falls. "We would love to have the region title."

Lewisville (6-3, 4-0 Region 3-A) again locks horns with the Red Devils (8-1, 4-0) Friday, renewing one of the state's most passionate rivalries. But Friday's about much more than bragging rights.

The winner wins the region and struts into the playoffs as a No. 1 seed, with at least one and possibly two home playoff games.

So winning is great for the community, but fantastic for the team. Each school is taking that approach this week -- region champion is more important than winner of The Battle of Chester County.

"Throw out all the other stuff," Great Falls coach Kenny Schofield said. "Lewisville feels the same way and you wouldn't want them to feel any different. Still about community pride, but then you start looking at region championship, playoff points, the whole ball of wax."

Therefore, the biggest question this week is not "Can the Red Devils break their 0-5 winless streak against the Lions?" or "Is Lewisville equipped to handle a Great Falls team vastly improved from their first meeting?"

It's "Who's the champ?"

"We're trying to play this game for the next four weeks," Schofield said. "We know that this caliber football team is going to be better than the majority of the teams that are left in the state for us. We're focusing more so on trying to keep things rolling."

The Devils will have to do it against Lewisville's powerful offense. The Lions have nine players who are capable of running or catching the football, and use all of them instead of defining a No. 1 back or receiver.

"Our kids take a lot of pride in wanting to play," Drum said. "They all tried to step up to the plate and get some playing time."

The rotation of Dennis Dunham, Darius Archie, Tirrelle Simpson, Timothy McCullough, Isaiah Johnson, Elijah Johnson, Iwanza Colvin, Dion Foster and Antwan Robinson have paced the Lions' offense this year. Many were also key components of the last two seasons, when Lewisville won two straight region titles and began a five-game winning streak against Great Falls.

"We call what we think is a good play for a particular back," Drum said. "If we're running the sweep or the trap or the iso, a lot of times they're based on the particular player that's in the game at that time."

But then again, don't be too quick to just hand the game to the Lions when you're filling out your office pool sheet. The Red Devils were humbled 33-11 by the Lions on Sept. 7, true, but they've stepped up since then.

Whichever Lion gets the ball, he'll have to try to get through a defensive front of Jerome Culp, Josh Lynn, Daon Rice and Nate Nelson. The stingy front four lead a defense that's only given up 1,255 yards and 86 points all year.

"I think the scheme is good and the players work extremely hard," Schofield said. "They spend their time in the weight room and bought into the system."

Schofield is reaping the benefits of his players' experience. When the Red Devils won 32 straight regular-season games (including six over Lewisville) four years ago, it was due to a handful of players who had risen through the system. Once they left, freshmen and sophomores had to take over and went 4-7.

But then came an 8-4 year and this season's 8-1 mark as the players developed. There were still some growing pains in the first game against Lewisville but they could be overcome Friday.

"We're not by any chance putting one school as a mark for winning," Schofield said. "The kids definitely understand what's on the line."

And remember, that's region title, not rivalry.

Although a rivalry win would be nice.

"I can honestly tell you that hasn't crossed my mind," Drum said. "Being the region champ is something but knowing that can potentially put you two games at home for the playoffs, that's important."

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