Zion Chapel prepares for physical region game with Samson

Published 11:54 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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The Zion Chapel Rebels (1-2, 0-1) are back at home this Friday, Sept. 15, for a Class 2A, Region 2 showdown with the Samson Tigers (0-2, 0-1).

The Rebels are coming off a 30-14 region loss to Wicksburg a week ago.

“I think the first half was good, we were competitive and physical,” ZCHS Coach Cody Keene said. “They scored late on us. Something our guys need to understand is the last six minutes of the first half and first six of the second – how you handle those moments – can be a determining factor in a game, along with 4-5 plays throughout the game.

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“We did not handle that part well. They scored with less than a minute left (in the first half) and then we came out (in the second half) and made some mistakes, penalty wise, and that was the biggest thing. We’ve addressed that and the kids are continuing to play hard. That’s going to be our hallmark as long as I’m here, and I’m proud of that.”

So far this season, quarterback Mason Staurt has completed 18-of-41 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns along with 418 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Micah Fuller has hauled in eight passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense, sophomore Brayden Benbow leads the way with 33 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one sack and a fumble recovery. Junior Jackson Dowdy has also tallied 22 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and two tacks.

Samson started the season off with a 34-6 loss to Kinston and then fell to GW Long 35-0 last week in a region game.

“They’re a strong, physical team,” Keene said of Samson. “Coach (Jason) Wambles has been there for a long time and is a weight room guy. They’re well coached and physical and the amount of improvement they’ve had between game one and game two is tremendous.

“I expect them to make another jump (in improvement) this week and I think it will be a competitive, great high school football game this Friday.”

Zion Chapel trails Samson 5-15 in the all-time series, which dates back to 1981, but last season snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Tigers with a 19-6 win. Keene wants to see his Rebels take advantage of their opportunities against Samson.

“I just want us to settle down and play ball,” he said. “We’re a young team, so when the opportunity presents itself to go win the ball game we have to go win the ball game. We have to be willing to put our foot on someone’s throat and dominant the man in front of us and go win the game.”

Zion Chapel hosts Samson at Greene Memorial Stadium in Jack at 7 p.m. on Friday night.