Defensive pressure

RCHS lineman Gage Mitchell closes in Wadley's Jacob Marable in the Tigers' 26-6 win over the Bulldogs Friday in Wadley.

RCHS has found its formula for success in 2020, and the Tigers keeping practicing that formula to perfection.

The latest edition came in Friday’s cross-county showdown with Wadley, a 26-6 RCHS win that the Tigers controlled from the outset.

On offense the formula is simple. Against Wadley the Tigers ran 52 offensive plays. Only two were passes. The dominant RCHS run game pounded its way to another 300-plus yard night behind big production from J.D. Till and Jack McKissic.

“Every team has a different identity every year,” said RCHS head coach Pat Prestridge. “That’s sort of been our identity over the years, but we do like to do other things. I guess we’re going back to old-school football where you throw it about zero to five times a game. I remember those days when I played.”

RCHS has attempted just 17 passes through five games this year, but Till and company have made that a moot point.

Till ran for 154 yards and three touchdowns against Wadley, while McKissic added 95 yards on 13 runs as the Tigers finished with 322 yards on the ground.

That’s not to say those two passes were without consequence, however. Avion Willis threw his second touchdown pass of the season, a 20-yarder to Jake Smith to account for RCHS’s fourth touchdown.

And with the way the Tigers’ defense played, that point total was plenty.

RCHS held Wadley to just six first downs in the game. The Bulldogs’ only points came on a 65-yard touchdown run by Jacob Marable in the third quarter. Outside of that run, Marable managed just seven yards on his other 12 carries.

RCHS registered 13 tackles for loss, with six of those coming at the hands of senior Noah Turner. Turner also had three quarterback sacks, to bring his total to 9.5 sacks through five games this season.

Wadley’s offensive struggles weren’t for a lack of creativity. The Bulldogs put Marable at quarterback for a few snaps, and he completed 1-of-3 passes for 21 yards. Marable rushed for 72 yards, passed for 21 and caught three balls for 70 more yards in the game.

With an inability to move the ball on the ground consistently, Wadley turned to the passing game. Lakevion O’Neal attempted a season-high 14 passes, completing six for 100 yards.

But Wadley, with its bevy of underclassmen, was simply unable to match the physicality of a much older RCHS team.

That didn’t keep Prestridge from making a promising prognosis for Wadley based on what he saw Friday and defending Wadley head coach Shenan Motley.

“Everybody better get ready for a butt whipping [from Wadley] next year,” he said. “That’s what I saw. That’s exactly what I saw. I don’t care what coach you are. I don’t care what team you are. I’ve been through it. Motley’s going through it this year. Strain’s been through it the last few years. When you’ve got young players, you’re talking about ninth graders, you’re talking about 13 or 14 year olds playing against 18 or 19 year olds, that’s a world of difference.”

RCHS is now 5-0 and is ranked No. 1 in the state in class 2A. The Tigers will resume region play this week with a trip to Fayetteville Thursday.

Wadley falls to 2-4 with the loss, but the Bulldogs are 1-1 in region play and will take on Woodland Friday in a pivotal region contest for both teams.

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