The FOX19 Friday Prep Rally heads back to Kentucky for Week 9's interstate battle between the Withrow Tigers and the Holmes Bulldogs.
A few close losses early crushed Withrow's playoff chances, but the Tigers have not packed it in. Meanwhile, Holmes has only had one blip on their radar with a loss to Dixie Heights. The Bulldogs will get a true test as they brace for a Class 4A playoff run.
Both teams are loaded with weapons which should lead to plenty of fireworks offensively. Yet this game is going to come down to defense and which team is able to create and capitalize on mistakes.
Let's take a closer look at this week's featured matchup:
WITHROW (4-4) AT HOLMES (7-1)
Tom Ellis Field
7:00 p.m. kickoff
TV: LIVE Pregame Show FOX19 (6:30 – 7:00)
RADIO: Listen Online at TriStateFootball.com
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Withrow senior Brandon Mitchell received double-digit offers before giving a verbal commitment to Cincinnati in June. The three-star defensive tackle was recognized as a Second-Team 2010 All-TriStateFootball.com honoree. Holmes dual-threat quarterback Jesse Jenson is one of top signal callers in Northern Kentucky and brings a ton of experience to the Bulldogs' huddle.
TEAM TRENDS: Withrow has rolled off four straight victories after starting the season 0-4. Over their past five games the Tigers have allowed just 13.2 points per contest. Withrow's last non-conference win came in Week 9 of 2009 as they defeated Holmes at home, 40-14. Holmes is averaging 44.6 points per game in 2010. The Bulldogs have posted a 16-4 record since the start of last season. However, the team's seven wins this year have come against schools that have a combined record of 18-38.
HOLMES' KEYS TO VICTORY: The Bulldogs need a big effort from the two-headed rushing attack of Damian Oden and Greg Clemons. For them to have success though the guys up front will need to hold their own against a strong Withrow defensive front. Linebacker Tommy Courtney is a main cog in the Holmes' defense and the team will need the senior to make plays in both the run and passing game to hold down the Tigers. Others on the team must step up collectively and equal the production of Dasean Peterson and Charles Knox, both of whom will not play in this contest.
WITHROW'S KEYS TO VICTORY: After a slow start the Tigers' offense is finding its groove by keeping their opponents guessing. Quarterback Blake Moore has gelled greatly with wideouts Shakee Bellamy and Dionte Riley in recent weeks. If Withrow can get their passing game going it will open things up big time for running back Da'Shawn Farley and present major problems for the Bulldogs' defense. Aaron Pugh needs to fluster Holmes offensively and help create opportunities for defensive backs Anthony White and Tyrone Nelson.
FINAL TAKE: Despite the fact that Holmes has won three more games, Withrow has been much more battle tested to his point of the season than their counterparts. Though the contest should be much closer than last year's matchup, size and depth swing heavily in favor of the Tigers…WITHROW 38, HOLMES 20