Editor’s note: With each new football season, fans, coaches and players alike scan the games and circle two or three that stand out from the rest. Whether it is a rivalry, has playoff implications or is simply a good matchup between two talented teams, those are the games people will look forward to. In this, the fourth of five blogs, I will take a closer look at another of the matchups I’m looking forward to most in the 2014 season.
2. Creekside at Carver, Sept. 5
When Olten Downs left his position at Carver High at 27 years old, he took over a Riverdale program that had won just two games in back-to-back seasons.
In 2011, his first as a head coach, Downs led the Raiders to a 4-6 record. In 2012, they were 7-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2005. He parlayed that into the head coaching position at Creekside High, which hadn’t won more than eight games since 2006. All he did in his first year with the Seminoles was go 15-0 and win the Class AAAAA state championship.
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It isn’t supposed to be that easy.
Downs, a 2002 graduate of Shaw High, will bring the defending state champions to Memorial Stadium on Sept. 5 this season, setting up a game rife with intrigue.
There’s the obvious fact that they are two high-profile teams playing in an early-season non-region clash. After a 16-14 win in the season-opener last year, Creekside scored 30-plus points in 13 of its 14 remaining contests. It broke 40 10 times, 50 four times and 60 once. Its lowest point total in its final seven games of the season was 41. It scored 52 against Tucker in the state championship, a team that had limited arguably the state’s most potent offense to 14 points the week before.
The Seminoles have a talented crop once again this season. Four-star offensive line recruit Venzell Boulware has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Miami and about 15 other major Division-I programs. Three-star wide receiver Jayson Stanley is in the same boat. Offensive lineman Marquel Harrell has already committed to Auburn, and running back Bricen Terry and safety Joshua Moon both have received Division-I attention.
And think of the individual matchups: Alabama-commit Mekhi Brown trying to beat Boulware and Harrell at the line. Three-star defensive back Khane Pass trying to shut down Stanley. Highly-recruited quarterback Jawon Pass trying to pick apart guys like Moon in the Creekside secondary.
And, of course, you love the storyline of a former coach/local player coming home to play his former program. Add to it the fact that Downs and Carver coach Joe Kegler were assistants on the same staff under Dell McGee, and you get a sense that this will be a bragging-rights game for more than just the players.
No, this game will have no impact on the state playoffs, but it could be a preview since Carver has joined the ranks of Class AAAAA.
This will certainly be one to watch early in the season.