- Special Sections
- Public Notices
New Albany and Ripley have a long rivalry that will open a new chapter Friday night. The Bulldogs won in the final minute last season, 33-28, and are looking this season to take advantage of a young Tiger defense.
“We’re not going to change a whole lot on offense, we’re just going to work on being more focused in the second half,” NAHS head coach Ron Price said. “Our guys will be focused with it being Ripley, and it’s our senior’s last time to play them. Hopefully some of those guys will put up some good numbers and maintain the intensity throughout four quarters.”
For two Bulldog coaches, this rivalry is bittersweet, as the duo played for Ripley.
Rolandus Cox and Josh Davis were raised in the rivalry having now experienced both sides.
“The rivalry was really big when I was in school,” Davis said. “We’ve always respected one another, but hated one another. I would compare it to an Ole Miss-Mississippi State or Ole Miss-LSU game. No matter how bad or good your season was going, you could always count on it to be a tough one.”
“This has been going on since before I was born,” Cox added. “Back then, we were all in the same division, and whoever won this game, normally won the division. Now that we’ve changed classification, it’s all about bragging rights.”
Focusing on the defensive attack for this game, both Davis and Cox said to watch for a more physical showing from the Bulldogs.
“Ripley is heavy in the run, very physical up front,” Cox said. “We’re just going to have to be physical with them as well and match toe-to-toe with them.”
Said Davis, “Ripley has always been a tough running and physical team. When I was in high school, we didn’t throw the ball, we lined up and beat you around the ball. That’s what they’ve gotten back to with the I-formation, running at us. They’re young on defense, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
While the win in 2009 was big for New Albany, both coaches took some time to reminisce of their memories with Ripley before the game.
“We kinda stood outside and looked over the practice field,” Davis said. “He (Cox) coached me my last two years at Ripley, and we talked about what the field meant to us. We remembered all of the tough practices we had when we played there and when he coached there. It was a real special win for us last year, and I hope this year will be the same.”
New Albany has won six of the last eight meetings and will look to go 2-0 on the year. As for the allegiance of the two coaches, they share fond memories of their time in black and gold, but the focus is on New Albany and a successful season for the Bulldogs.
“It’s always been a special week for me, and it means a lot,” Davis said.
“I will always respect Ripley, but I’m maroon and white now, and that’s all that matters,” added Cox. “This is a big game; should be a packed house. It’s going to be a hard fought game with 365 days of bragging rights for whoever wins.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.