“They’re huge and they’re athletic,” head coach Arlton Hudson said of Restoration. “I would probably compare them to a 5A or 6A public school and they’ve got that kind of talent. They have as many as four or five division I prospects on the football team. That tells you all you need to know right there. It’s going to be a definite challenge. I think it’s a game that we’re going into with a plan where we feel like we can do what we do. We’re going to really concentrate on us doing our job and not really what they do. If we can get out there and play hard for four quarters, you never know what can happen. Last year, we played at our place and probably played the best game we played all year. I feel like we’re a better football team than we were last year, but I know they’re a better football team also. It’s just one of those games you go into and you’ve got to be prepared for a little bit of everything. They’re very athletic and make a lot of plays, even when they’re not designed plays. They’re very capable of making a big play on any play.”
The Bulldogs enter the game with a 3-1 record, the lone loss coming at class AAA Bessemer Academy, the No.7-ranked team in AISA, and a team CVA must face later in the season. Even that loss had a final score of 7-6. Both teams scored touchdowns, but the Bulldogs went for a two-point conversion that failed. Since that game, Restoration has outscored opponents in three games by a margin of 139-7, roughly an average of 46-2. The Restoration defense has allowed 14 points all season, an average of 3.5 points allowed per game.
Hudson said for his team to have any success against the rugged Bulldog defense, the team will need a standout performance from the offensive line.
“You’ve got to control the line of scrimmage obviously,” Hudson said. “If you can win the battle at the line, then you have a chance of winning the football game. If you don’t win the battle at the line, then you have no chance of winning. We feel pretty good about our offensive line.”
Hudson said there have been some injuries, but he has seen several younger players step in and admirably fill roles.
“We’ve had some kids that got better this week,” Hudson said. “Obviously, with guys that’ll be out, we have to have some young kids step up and they’ve done the job. Miles Sharp has really come into his own. He’s just a ninth grader, but he’s going to play a lot Friday night. He’s doing some great things. Ryan Garrett has really picked it up and is doing a lot better. We have some young kids that are coming and that’s going to really help us this week. I’m just excited about Rowe Frederick. We’ve had to put him in and he’s done a great job filling in for one of the players. I can’t say enough about Rowe and Miles and Ryan. They’ve really stepped up and taken on the duty of doing their job. They’ve done a good job with it. I’m just excited to watch them play a whole football game.”
Despite last season’s 42-20 loss to Restoration, CVA’s 20-point total was a significant amount against one of the best defenses in AISA.
In Restoration’s 14 games over the entire season, only two teams scored more points than the Rebels did against the Bulldogs. The team has several key offensive weapons this season, including kicker Zach Sharp if the offense should falter prior to hitting the red zone.
“He’s definitely a big part of our game plan every week,” Hudson said of Sharp. “If we’re on their 40, we have a chance to come away with points and we’ll definitely try it. He may have more opportunities this week than he’s had in the past. We’re never shy about giving him one. I gave him one from 56 last week and he barely missed it to the right. If we’re on their 40, we’ve got a chance to score and we’ll definitely try it if given the opportunity.”
The CVA Rebels play in Fairfield at Restoration Academy Friday with kickoff at 7 p.m.