MARTINS FERRY - On paper, Friday night's contest between Shenandoah and Martins Ferry appears to have all the makings of a mismatch.
The Purple Riders are coming off a strong 46-21 road triumph against Heath, while the Zeps were upended, 20-14, at home by a Frontier squad that hadn't won since 2010.
Veteran coach Dave Bruney has been around long enough to know you don't take any team lightly. And that's the approach the Martins Ferry grid boss is taking this week as Purple Rider Stadium welcomes action for the first time in 2012.
Martins Ferry visited Noble County in Week 2 last season and came away with a 56-14 triumph against the Pioneer Valley Conference foe.
''They have some people back and we watched them scrimmage against Bellaire,'' Bruney said. ''Their quarterback is probably their best athlete and they have a wide receiver that's pretty good, too.
''They keep a lot of kids involved and their kids play really hard.''
The quarterback Bruney speaks highly of is Eli Hurst.
Hurst, one of 13 returning seniors for first-year coach Kaleb Lawrence, struggled last week against the Cougars, finishing 5 of 16 for 98 yards, a touchdown and three picks.
Danny Neuhart, another senior, was on the receiving end of all of the strikes.
Another pair of seniors - Blake Rossiter and Jesse Wikander - also provide the Zeps with offensive punch.
The Shenandoah offense will face a stiff challenge from a Purple Riders defense that put forth a strong effort against Heath.
Sean McGee paced Ferry with eight stops, while Cody Schau and Bryan Styles contributed five and four tackles, respectively. Styles also had a pick.
''I look forward to getting home this week,'' Bruney said. ''That's a pretty long two-hour bus ride and we were just pleased to go on the road and get a victory. Our goal is to improve this week.''
The Purple Riders received contributions from a plethora of players on both sides of the ball, especially on offense.
''All in all, I was happy with our offensive performance,'' Bruney said. ''And, defensively, we played pretty well and Heath had one of the better tailbacks we'll see.''
The Purple Riders used two quarterbacks and the strategy paid off. Tyler Strama finished with 93 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while Eric Flowers went 9 of 11 for 140 yards and a score.
''Strama has a good arm and he is a good runner and he played well,'' Bruney said. ''And Flowers has a good job. He's also a good kid who throws the ball well.''
Schau was a sponge at receiver, hauling in 10 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
''He just has good field awareness about him and I thought he ran good routes.'' Bruney said of Schau.
All told, Ferry accumulated nearly 400 yards of total offense.
''We used a lot of different players which kept the defense pretty fresh,'' he said.