Week 7 Big Game: aka Rivalry Week


Six-man expert
Week 7 Big Game: aka Rivalry Week

Aquilla @ Abbott – Friday Oct. 13th 7:30pm
It just so happens this week features the two biggest rivalries in six-man football. Strawn v Gordon and Abbott v Aquilla. With all due respect to the Palo Pinto County Showdown, the Panthers vs Cougars in the Hill County Cat Fight has got to be on everyone’s radar this week and is my pick for game of the week.

You can throw the spreads out the window in this game. These two rivals have squared off every year since 2000, playing 19 total games. Abbott has won 14 of them, including the last four. Regardless, it is always a bitter contest that players and fans talk about all season long. Last year’s contest was an amazing 28-20 victory by the Panthers. In that game, Aquilla scored with less than four minutes left in the game, to bring it to 22-20, with the potential to tie it up with the extra point. But Abbott blocked the PAT and then added on a final TD, then held Aquilla in the final two minutes for the win!

I have a feeling this year’s game will be just as good! Incidentally sixmanfootball.com has Aquilla favored by 45 points and the last time the Cougars won this game via the mercy rule was in 1988 (54-6)!

There is no doubt that this will be a game fought in the trenches, as both teams love to run the ball…and run the ball some more. In last week’s loss to Oakwood, Abbott ran 72 plays, 64 of them were run plays. In the Cougars last game against highly ranked DII Milford two weeks ago, their game plan was to run the ball, taking time off the clock, by presenting a physical run attack. If you think these teams are going to come out gun slinging the ball around, you got another thing coming.

The Panthers do an amazing job at mixing it up in the backfield and you can never be sure who is going to be the break-out back on the night. Last week it was Matthew Urbanovsky (23-167 yards, 2 TDs); against Cranfills Gap it was Kadyn Johnson (5-151 yards, 4 TDs); against Blum it was Nolan Kaska (29-173 yards, 3 TDs) …you get my point. That much depth in the back field is a big advantage in a game like this.

The Cougars’ running game appears to be a bruising two-back system led by Jacob Felan (47-736 yards, 13 TDs) and closely followed by Zack Winder (38-403 yards, 12 TDs). One-Two punches are always tough to deal with in six-man and these two have the ability to break loose for large gains with their speed.

If you are beginning to think both these schools seem very similar this year, you are right. In fact, both coaches echoed the same sentiments about this week’s match-up. When pressed for thoughts on this week’s game here is what the coaches said:

Abbott’s Terry Crawford: “It’s a rivalry game, throw the records out the window, community pride and honor [are] on the line, so players perform at their best. If we want to have a chance to win the game we must block and tackle better than we did last week.”

Aquilla’s Josh Ball: “This game is always a big rivalry game and always comes with extra anticipation and hype. Each team comes out to play their best game of the year. Our biggest keys for this game will be fundamental blocking on offensive and playing aggressive defense. Our kids are excited and determined and ready to play this week.”

Even in their talking points leading up to this game these two team’s thoughts and keys to the game are unbelievably similar.

Keys to the Game:
Abbott might be a little banged up from their game last week with Oakwood, so number one would be to stay healthy during the week. They need to focus on ball control and when they do throw the ball, not force things, as they seem to have thrown to many interceptions this season for the limited number of pass plays they’ve run. The home field helps Abbott a little here, and if they can get the fans out (which shouldn’t be a problem for this game) that may give them a little bit of an X factor.

The flip side is that Aquilla needs to force turnovers and keep Abbott from breaking loose for large gains on the ground and wear down their backs. The week off for Aquilla is the biggest X factor in this game, as it allowed them to recover from their big game against Milford two weeks ago.

This is the hardest game to pick a winner! I could just go with the old cliché that the fans will be the real winners, but if forced to pick…I’m just can’t bring myself to pick against Coach Crawford’s crew.