Updated Wed, Aug 28, 2013 5:44 pm
The Alexander Spartans look to win the SPACER Trophy for the fourth consecutive time when they host the Federal Hocking Lancers in a cross-division showdown Thursday night.
The rivalry, and the first high school football game of the year in Athens County, will pit TVC-Ohio against TVC-Hocking in a game between two teams trying to prove that they belong in the discussion for their respective league titles.
Add in potential playoff implications and one team’s quest for payback, and you’ve got quite the exciting Week One matchup in Albany.
“It should be a great game,” Federal Hocking coach Phil Hoffman said. “There are two main reasons why we really want to win: we want to win for the seniors who helped rebuild this team, and to finally get back the SPACER Trophy.”
Last fall, Hoffman’s Lancers came painfully close to defeating the Spartans for the first time in five years.
In a classic Battle for the SPACER Trophy in 2012, a Spartan touchdown late in the fourth quarter tied the game before the ensuing extra point put them up for good.
The win was Alexander’s third straight against the Lancers, who have not touched the SPACER Trophy since 2007.
However, after their thrilling win in Week 1, the Spartans were unable to win consistently, finishing at 4-6 overall and in a tie for third place in the TVC-Ohio with a record of 2-3.
Federal Hocking responded to their loss by winning six of their next seven games. But the Lancers also stumbled down the stretch, finishing 6-4 overall and in a tie for third place in the TVC-Hocking with a record of 5-3.
With nine starters on each side of the ball and a sound cast of leaders returning in 2013, including halfback Peyton Seel, fullback Delbert Crum, and receiver Alfy Nichols, Federal Hocking is a popular pick as a dark horse to win the TVC-Hocking.
Alexander head coach Sean Arno is not taking the Lancers lightly.
“They have good talent,” Arno said. “We’ve definitely taken a close look at what they have at those skill positions and we feel as though we are prepared to deal with them.”
While Federal Hocking has several skill position players ready to take to the field, Alexander is known more for trying to impose their will by winning in the trenches and playing smash-mouth football.
“If you control the line, good things are going to happen,” Arno said “We have a big group up front that has played well in our three scrimmages and that is what most games come down to.”
However, Hoffman sees the game as a big opportunity for his Lancers to shine.
“We are hoping that we can get a win here to use as a springboard for a good season,” Hoffman said. “But this game is a big deal around here, and we know both teams are going to go for it.”