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Barnesville and River Set for a ‘Coin-Flip’ Game

Shamrocks and Pilots set to clash at Shamrock Stadium

Photo by Kristin Mazgaj Barnesville’s Chase Conner runs away from Shadyside defenders.

Barnesville and River have played some very tight, physical games over the years since their rivalry renewed.

Don’t look for much difference when they clash at Shamrock Stadium on Friday.

“This is one of those coin-flip games,” River head coach Mike Flannery said. “We have a lot of respect for Barnesville and I expect another good game as we’ve played in the past.”

The Pilots come in with a 2-2 record. They saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped a week ago at Warren in a game that came together a week ago after learning their scheduled game at Magnolia was off due to COVID-19.

“Everyone looked at what Williamstown did to Warren and thought we shouldn’t have a problem, but there was some players missing in that game and it wasn’t a true indicator of the type of team Warren has,” Flannery said. “You have to play good teams to get better.”

Barnesville, meanwhile, tasted defeat for the first time when it fell to undefeated Shadyside at home.

“We gave up too many big plays defensively and we have to execute better on offense,” Barnesville head coach Blake Allen said. “We have to be able to run the ball better, so we’ve spent time on getting back to the basics in all areas of the running game.”

Counting quarterback sacks, the Shamrocks were held to negative rushing yards against the Tigers. For the season, the Shamrocks have nary a ball carrier with more than 100 yards.

“We have three or four guys they can get the ball to in a bunch of different ways,” Flannery said. “We can’t fall asleep defensively because they’re versatile.”

Junior quarterback C.J. Hannahs, who has passed for 375 yards this season, has spread the ball around to the likes of seniors Spencer Bliss and Chase Conner. Owyn Wise is also a viable option after he caught a touchdown last week.

On the other side, the Pilots have found an offensive balance with sophomore quarterback Kabel Isaly putting up big numbers in the early going. He’s thrown for 796 yards and nine touchdowns in the first four games.

Junior Brody Lollathin has caught 18 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns, while Brody Longwell, who was limited last week, has caught 14 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. River Thompson has made 18 grabs for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

On the ground, Austin Creamer has developed into the go-to guy. He’s rushed for 376 yards and six touchdowns on 48 carries.

“River is very explosive and (Isaly) is definitely the guy who leads the charge,” Allen said. “You can tell he’s getting better and better as he gets more comfortable. They have a lot of athletes around him, too. They make you defend the whole field.”

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