Martins Ferry hosts Linsly in battle of 2-0 combines

A meetin’ of unbeatens is set for the Dave Bruney Football Complex in Martins Ferry Friday night.

The Purple Riders will welcome their first OVAC opponent of the season when fellow 2-0 Linsly comes calling for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

“I would think personnel wise that Linsly will be one of the better teams on our schedule,” Ferry head coach Dave Bruney said. “I think they’re much better than people thought they would be. I can honestly see them winning eight, maybe nine, games.”

The Cadets pulled out a hard-fought victory at Magnolia in week one and made the lengthy trip to Parkersburg and handed South a 33-14 setback last Friday.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with how well we’ve started (the season),” said Linsly head coach B.J. Depew. “We’ve had a tough time getting out of the gates in past seasons, so to go to New Martinsville and Parkersburg and win says a lot about the mindset of our kids.”

The Purple Riders have used strong second halfs and pulled away from Allderdice and Wickliffe during the first two weeks.

“We’d like to get a bit of a faster start, but I have been pleased with the resiliency our kids have shown, which goes a long way in the maturation process,” Bruney said.

Last week, the Purple Riders pulled out a 36-26 victory last week, utilizing a vaunted running attack, which was spearheaded by senior Marcus Sutton, who went for more than 200 yards.

“We were better (last week) than we were in week one,” Bruney said. “We’ll need to continue to improve.”

The Purple Riders and Cadets last met in 2008 with Ferry cruising to a 53-7 victory.

“We’ve had some rough times at Martins Ferry in the past,” Depew said. “They have an excellent program and we hope we’re able to stack up. We feel that if we play well, we’ll have a chance to stand toe-to-toe with them.”

This week’s game, quite simply, could come down to which team runs the ball most effectively.

“I think all coaches will tell you the key to winning football game is being able to stop the run and being able to run the ball yourselves,” Depew said. “Martins Ferry has long been a team that wants to run the ball first and their defense is very disciplined, well coached and Ferry’s kids are strong and fast.”

The Cadets’ ground game is led by senior Chimechi Oparanozie, who has ran for almost 300 yards in two games on just 36 carries. Jameson Murray is the Cadets’ quarterback. He’s thrown for 242 yards and ran for better than 100 last week.

One of the Cadets’ biggest strengths is in the trenches with veterans Dom Ellis, Reno Colaianni, Austin Whipkey, Todd Nickoles and junior Chukwudi Chukwu.

“They’re a big, physical team up front,” Bruney said. “They use a lot of inside and outside zone blocking schemes, which is really effective for them. They’re not bashful about using some screens or taking some shots down the field.”

The Purple Riders, meanwhile, have a bevy of offensive weapons in the backfield they’re utilizing.

Sutton was last week’s go-to-guy, but junior Bruce Burger was the guy in the first week. Senior Bryan Styles is another with big-play capability. Bryce Coleman and Arjay Burress are also viable options.

Senior Eric Flowers triggers the attack at quarterback. Junior Jack Fitch is one of the Riders’ top receiving options.

Bruney lauded the play of senior Robert Vargo on both sides of the ball, calling him a “force.”

“Martins Ferry will be the most explosive team we’ve seen thus far,” Depew said.

“Plus, man for man, we expect them to be the strongest team we’ve faced. We think Flowers is an excellent athlete and (Styles) looks very dynamic. Tackling will be of the utmost importance.”

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