TENNERTON – It will be a rivalry renewed when the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers battle the Elkins Tigers in Elkins Friday night in a Big 10 Conference battle.
The game, slated to kickoff at 7 p.m., is dubbed “The Battle for the Axe.” The series started in 1920 in a battle between Buckhannon High School and Elkins High School.
It will be the third straight road game for the Bucs.
The contest will feature two teams looking to get their season back on track as the Bucs enter the contest with a 1-2 mark after getting roughed up by the Philip Barbour Colts last week in a 35-14 setback while Elkins, at 0-3, will be seeking their first win after suffering a 47-7 loss on the road to Lewis County last Friday.
It is a cliché, but you really can toss the records out the window when these two rivals match-up.
“This is a big game for both teams,” stated Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis. “I expect them to throw everything at us including the kitchen sink. It’s a great rivalry but in all honesty, I think all the hype surrounding the rivalry sort of goes away for the players after that first snap and it becomes another game. We must get through all the pre-game excitement and focus on playing the game.”
Davis said that his team has had a good week of practice leading up to the game.
“It has sort of been a return to normal for us in practice,” stated Davis. “We dealt with some bad storms two weeks ago and the heat last week, so this week it was back to normal. We couldn’t go full pads last week because of the heat and that threw us off a little bit. We aren’t using that as an excuse for our performance, but it’s nice to have that normalcy again in practice.”
The Bucs struggled last week against Philp Barbour in part due to turning the ball over five times.
“We always work on preventing turnovers in practice,” noted Davis. “It just turned into a nightmare and a perfect storm against Philip Barbour. I told our team; we can’t turn it over four times in a half or five times in a game. That isn’t B-U football and it’s something we have worked on. That first half couldn’t have gone any worse for us, but I liked our resiliency and how we kept fighting.”
Slowing down Elkins tailback Nick Bowers will be a key for the B-U defense as Bowers ran for 90 yards and a score against Lewis County.
“Bowers is a quality back and it seems like they always have a big offensive line to run behind,” remarked Davis. “They are young at their skill positions, but they do have some good size up front and are pretty physical. We just need to read our keys on defense and stick to our assignments.”
The Elkins defense gave up over 400 yards rushing against Lewis County and the ground game is something that Davis would like to get back too after being held to 113 yard rushing last week against Philip Barbour after putting up 283 rushing yards two weeks ago against Ripley.
“We have to be able to run the football,” commented Davis. “We didn’t run it very well against Philip Barbour. To do that we need to control the line of scrimmage which again, is something we didn’t do last week. We were getting beat to the point of attack. We will get that fixed.”
Following their outing with Elkins, the Bucs will return home next Friday to play Morgantown.