EAST LIVERPOOL - It has become known as the "Battle of the Bridge," which means the annual gridiron meeting between Oak Glen and East Liverpool is a rivalry.
The Golden Bears (4-3), escaping last week with a 26-20 overtime win at Tyler Consolidated, hits the road again this week traveling to East Liverpool (1-6) for its third straight away game.
"We've had two good road victories that were huge confidence builders after we lost three in a row, and we're hoping to get another this week," said first-year Golden Bears coach Ian Whittington. "We want to keep the train rolling."
Whittington admits that with three defeats, the Bears have their backs to the wall trying to make it into the playoffs. After an open date next week they play state-ranked Point Pleasant, which jumped to the AAA classification this year and Magnolia, which dropped to Class A.
"Our schedule keeps getting tougher and tougher," he said. "I believe that Tyler Consolidated is better than Weir High, that East Liverpool is better than Tyler, that Point Pleasant is better than East Liverpool and Magnolia may be the best of them all.
"But we can't worry about those other teams. We're in the position that we have to play them one game at a time and this week we are concentrating on East Liverpool."
Whittington believes the East Liverpool record is deceiving.
"They have a lot of good athletes with decent speed," he said. "They have played a tough schedule with teams like Cambridge and Hubbard and Indian Creek. I believe that if they played more teams with their own enrollment size they would have a lot more wins."
The two teams have played one common opponent in Indian Creek. The Redskins beat East Liverpool 26-12 and the following week downed Oak Glen by 41-9.
The Potters mix up their offensive sets, according to Whittington. He said they run out of the shotgun and pistol formations and also like to pack it in tight and run a big fullback.
"Like just about every week, we have to control the ball," Whittington said of his keys to victory. "I think our game plan will be to run the football, but we will want to get the ball into Bub's (quarterback Vince (Bub) Haddox) hands and keep it inside of our tackles.
"Defensively, our plan is simple and basically the same every game. We have to stop the run and defend the pass."
Haddox had a big game against the Silver Knights, being involved all three of the Golden Bear offensive touchdowns. He hit on 12 of 23 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown and scored twice on the ground gaining 53 yards with 11 carries. Haddox scored the winning touchdown on a 20-yard scamper in overtime.
Oak Glen's big All-State tackle, Preston Murray recovered a Tyler Consolidated fumble at about the 10-yard line and rumbled into the end zone for a touchdown carrying two Silver Knights over the goal line with him, according to Whittington.