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Road Warriors

By Jeff Toquinto, 10/04/19, 12:30PM EDT

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There’s plenty at stake tonight when Bridgeport visits North Marion in the Indians’ third-straight Class AA top 10 encounter. Not only will the Indians be looking to secure their 52nd-straight non-losing season, but the Tribe will be looking to get a win against a North Marion team that is surging.

The two teams will battle in Rachel. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Both teams come into the contest with 4-1 records. Both teams have suffered their only loss to Fairmont Senior. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 as the Indians are ranked No. 6 in Class AA, while the Huskies come in at No. 8.

Coach John Cole is expecting a tough go of things against NMHS.

“They look better offensively this year. I was at the Fairmont Senior game they played on Thursday and the first series you could tell (quarterback Gunner) Murphy looks better this year and their line looks better this year,” said Cole. “They’ve got some athletes at receiver and on that touchdown they scored in the first half against Fairmont Senior they made their guys miss and outran them to the end zone.

“It’s going to be a really, really tough task to beat the up there,” he continued. “We’re going to have to play some really good defense and maybe pick it up on offense too.”

Murphy has looked good so far. He has completed 58-of-88 passes for 983 yards with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

There are three primary targets for Murphy. Ethan Raines has eight catches for 214 yards with two scores, Jahkari Mesidor has 15 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown, while the big threat is Tariq Miller who has hauled in 15 passes for 370 yards with four scores.

Ricky Newbrough is the primary rushing threat. He leads the team with 322 yards on 55 carries with five touchdowns. Murphy has run it in three times this year.

Looking to stop North Marion’s wide-open offensive attack will be a BHS defense led by Carson Winkie. Winkie paces the team with 34 tackles, while fellow linebacker Trey Pancake is next on the stops list with 25.

J.D. Love is also in the mix with 22 tackles this year. He’s followed by Michael Watkins and J.R. Coburn with 19 stops each and Devin Vandergrift with 18.

North Marion will be tasked with stopping a Bridgeport team coming off their highest offensive output of the season in a 43-6 win against Robert C. Byrd. There’s no secret the Tribe will be running the ball almost exclusively.

Brian Henderson is the team leader with 433 yards on 88 carries (4.9 yards per carry), while Pancake is next with 228 yards on 45 rushes (5.0 yards per carry). Henderson leads the team with five touchdowns, while Pancake has 4.

J.D. Love has also emerged as a threat. He has 35 carries for 159 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown.

Devin Vandergrift will pass if needed but is not averaging four passes per game. The Tribe has only thrown 19 passes total with Vandergrift leading the way with eight completes in 18 attempts for 154 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Cole knows the win also will help with postseason positioning. The Huskies figure to pick up even more wins this year, and that would mean bonus points for the Tribe is they can find a win on the road this evening.

“If we can stay healthy and squeeze out a few more win these teams we’ve been playing lately and in the future are going to make the playoffs and that can only help us,” said Cole. “We need to get in a little better shape, and we need to have a killer instinct to do what we want to do this year.”

The game will be on 103.3 WAJR FM. Travis Jones will have the call with Chris George taking care of the color commentary duties.