WILLIAMSTOWN - The Roane County Raiders put their six-game winning streak on the line when they visit Williamstown for the Yellowjackets' senior night on Friday.
After losing to Ravenswood in the third week of the season, it was time for a gut-check and the Raiders responded.
"When we left Ravenswood, we kind of made a deal amongst ourselves that we were not going to play like that anymore," Roane County coach Paul Burdette said. "We had a couple of rough weeks where we did not play sound football, the type of football we are accustomed to playing at Roane County."
Beginning with Herbert Hoover three weeks ago, the Raiders approached each game like the postseason. The coaching staff figures they will be on the road regardless of the outcome against Williamstown.
"The best thing about our kids is that they are truly a team," Burdette said. "Nobody cares who gets the credit."
Last year marked the first meeting between the two schools with Terry Smith as head coach of Williamstown. The Yellowjackets secured a postseason berth at 6-4 by winning 41-7.
In that game, Trace Hart led Williamstown with 147 yards on 20 carries, while quarterback Jake Tracewell rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another. Linebacker David Hastings recorded three sacks in the first half. One of the few bright spots for Roane County were quarterback Hunter Bradley and receiver Tyler King rewriting the school record books - Bradley with 248 yards passing and King with 201 yards receiving.
"We didn't play our best football and got beat pretty handily," Burdette said. "Our guys remember that."
Both team enter Friday's contest at 7-2. For the fourth time this season, Williamstown played a game last week which was decided by a touchdown or less. Ritchie County racked up nearly 400 yards of total offense while defeating the Yellowjackets 38-31.
"We tried to move guys around," Smith said. "We would bring guys up front and Ritchie County would hit long passes on us. When we defended against the pass, that didn't work out because they ran the ball."
Williamstown's primary concern against Roane County will be stopping the run. The Raiders have a 1,000-yard rusher in Luke Scott (1,276 yards with 15 touchdowns) and a dual-threat quarterback in Cody May (607 yards rushing and and 950 yards passing). After earning second-team all-state honors last season, King has returned for his senior year and caught 23 passes for 293 yards.
"Last year, we had to go to the passing game a lot more," Burdette said. "But when we need a pass, Tyler is our go-to guy." Roane County must contend with the passing combination of Jake Tracewell and Hunter Neely. Last week against the Rebels, Neely hauled in eight passes for 106 yards and three touchdowns.
"Those guys have been playing together for the past five or six years," Smith said.
Roane County is scoring 32.8 points per game and allowing 23.1 points per contest. The points allowed drops to 17.6 during its six-game win streak.
"We have to try and figure out what they are going to do, and I would think they would try and run on us," Smith said. "They do some things differently that Ritchie County. We just have to make sure we are lined up correctly."