WITH frantic fourth-quarter finishes against North Hall the past few years, the Trojans have become an opponent that Jefferson players look forward to on the schedule.
For coaches, well, it’s a bit more stressful.
“I think the players look forward to playing them more than the coaches do,” Jefferson coach Ben Hall said. “It’s a physical game and it has developed into a rivalry.”
This is the fifth consecutive year these programs will meet.
Jefferson and North Hall have split this series 2-2 since 2010 with three of those four games being decided by a touchdown or less.
Former Trojan coach Bob Christmas, who guided North Hall for 13 years, has moved on. Enter longtime assistant David Bishop, who takes over of a program that went 8-3 a year ago and has recorded nine seasons of at least eight wins since 2002.
The Trojans, who moved up to Class AAAA this year, run a two tight end wishbone which Hall said his team doesn’t often see. Defensively, North Hall is fundamentally sound, according to Hall, who noted that Trojan defensive lineman Darrien Ingram will be a challenge for his team to handle.
In many ways, Jefferson will line up against a team that mirrors its own.
“It’s like I told the kids yesterday,” Hall said. “They’re very similar to our kind of kids. They play hard and they expect to win every time they take the field.”
Hall is wary of the Trojans’ girth, particularly in the trenches.
“The thing that sticks out year in and year out about North Hall is their size, especially on the line of scrimmage,” Hall said. “They’re always big and physical and always have big bruising backs in the backfield.”
Bobby Mendenhall and Austin Perry are the Trojans’ top running backs, while Maddox Turner takes over at quarterback for standout Andrew Smith, who graduated.
Smith wasn’t the only player North Hall lost.
In fact, the Trojans graduated a massive senior class from last year’s squad, “but their replacements are very similar to the ones they lost,” Hall said.
North Hall will be as eager to play as any team around. Not only will Friday mark the coaching debut of Bishop, the Trojans have been waiting around for two weeks to play their season opener.
That won’t make going into the Brickyard any easier this week.
“We’re going into a first-game environment Friday night again,” Hall said. “It’s good for our kids. Taking our kids and getting them used to playing in those environments, usually game one regardless of where you go is similar to a playoff environment. So we’re appreciative to have this opportunity.”
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