Region rivals clash when Zion Chapel visits Goshen

Published 6:44 pm Thursday, September 5, 2019

Two region rivals are set to square off Friday night when the Zion Chapel Rebels travels to Goshen to take on Bart Snyder’s Eagles.

Both teams kickoff region play coming off wins a week ago. The Zion Chapel Rebels knocked off Red Level last week, while the Goshen Eagles knocked off rival Ariton 21-7.

The win for the Rebels gave them back-to-back season opening wins for the first time since the 1974 and 1975 seasons.  In 1975, the Rebels played for a state championship.

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“It was exciting to open the regular season with a win,” said Rebel head coach Randy Bryant. “I know some people think It’s ridiculous, but sometimes you have to find positives and make sure we are finding things to promote our program. Our kids work hard just like everybody else’s.”

This week’s game marks the beginning of region play for both teams. The Rebels are coming off a 5-5 overall record a season ago, but finished 2-5 in region play, good enough for sixth place, two spots shy of securing a playoff berth behind Goshen, who finished 4-3 in region play. Both teams hope to get off to flying start in region play this week.

“Every game is really important,” Snyder said. “This one is by far the most important game we got. It’s a region game, but more importantly, it’s the next one on the schedule.”

For Bryant and the Rebels, the Eagles are sure to offer a stiff challenge.

“Goshen is Goshen,” Bryant said. “They are going to be well coached and they have great athletes. It’s definitely going to be a big challenge, but I like challenges, I look forward to them. They are a spread team, they have a heavy package and they like to play coverage on defense. It’s going to be challenge, they do a really good job and I look forward to it.”

The Rebels have improved each year under Bryant. Before finishing 5-5 last year, the Rebels finished 2-8 in Bryant’s first year in 2017.

“Coach Bryant has done a tremendous job over there,” Snyder said. “I have been pleased with what I have seen with the overall intensity of the group, how well coached they are and how fundamentally sound they are. They are strong, they are in the weight room. They have bought into what he is coaching and I have seen that group get better and better.”

The Eagles got the better of the Rebels last year, beating the 55-6. Despite the score, both teams committed their share of mistakes. Both coaches have made it a point of emphasis this time around to control the penalties and win the turnover battle.

“We can’t ever allow turnovers to dictate a ball game,” Snyder said. “We have done that too much in the past, especially last year. We still had four fumbles last week and that is something we can’t have.”

“I’m not a big stats guy, but numbers don’t lie,” Bryant said. “If you have a plus two turnover margin you win 98 percent of the time. Three allows you one mistake, so we talk about three turnovers and how that effects your ability to win. Taking care of the ball is our number priority on offense and taking away the ball is number one on defense. If you do that, you have a chance to win the turnover margin.”

The Eagles have defeated the Rebels in seven-straight games. They will go for win number eight beginning at 7 p.m.

“They are very excited,” Snyder said. “We will have a pep rally, so that will excite everybody and then we will be ready to play.”