FAIRBANKS-Last Friday in high school football we had two of the top five Alaska teams in Lathrop and Wasilla faceoff. Tomorrow another big Friday evening matchup willl happen in the Interior. In the Greatland Conference the Eielson Ravens host the Monroe Rams at 5 p.m. on Buck Nystrom Field. Game time was moved up because Eielson's home field doesn't have lights.
Eielson is coming off a 71-14 win over Barrow and are 3-0 in conference play. Their only loss came to Soldotna at the beginning of the season. The Ravens run the rock. Standout Tony Griffith has amassed over 1000 yards and 16 touchdowns in just four weeks. He'd be number 1 in fantasy football. Junior Jaheem Prioleau is also running threat running for Eielson. He has almost 400 yards in three games as well.
But don't forget about Monroe with just 12 players they've outscored their two opponents Seward and Valdez 98-2. Scooter Bynum does it all scoring on defense, special teams, and offense in both games. Quarterback Tyler Wells is a triple threat as well but he's thrown five touchdowns and no picks. Because the Rams may have 12 players but most of them are athletic and skilled.
This will be an interesting matchup. Can the Rams contain Griffith and can the Ravens make enough plays to win and possibly wear down Monroe? The players say the linemen will be the x-factor.
"The key for me is the line," Prioleau said. "They open up the holes for us. I mean go to thank the linemen first. Go to make plays when it's time to make plays but honestly [I] thank the line."
Griffith agrees that the offensive line is the foundation for not just any offense but especially for the Ravens run heavy offense.
"Most of the work and the yards all goes to them because without them I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing." Griffith adds, "So you know, big thanks to the line, good play calling by our coach. You know we believe in every call that he makes you know, run it 100 percent."
Monroe wants to counter with their defensive line. They wreaked havoc against their last two opponents and they hope that it continues. This will be important for the second and third level of the Rams defense which is feeding off their defensive line production.
"Really our defensive line has really stepped up this year.," Monroe senior defensive back Alex Callahan said. "We got Michael Neville and Connor O'Kelly on the d-ends and really anchoring that, some solid interior linemen like Josh Watson, Peter Button. That's where really where it comes from-putting so much pressure on the QB for us makes it a lot easier for us."
"It's going to be a very big game," Dylan Gavora said. Gavora is a senior lineback for the Rams and tallied 10 solo tackles in his last game. "I expect to be real physical from the opening kick. So I mean they have really good player in 21 [Griffith]. We're going to do everything we can to stop him tomorrow."
"We're focused right now. I mean we're not really worried about the matchup," Prioleau said. 'We're just going to take it play by play and day by day and get better and better."
"The whole team is pumped about it you know, we've never beaten Eielson and this is the year we're going to do it," Callahan said.