If the opening of the season isn’t enough to excite players and coaches, a rivalry game will surely do it.
And while no Macon school program has ever defeated Westside, Rutland has been the one constant during the past few years that has consistently put a scare in the Seminoles. Two years ago, it took a late touchdown for Westside to get the win, and last year, with playoff implications involved, the Hurricanes were down by only one score before Westside blew it open in the fourth quarter.
This year, both coaches expect the same kind of battle.
“I don’t know how he does it, but George Collins always has his team amped up to play us,” Westside head coach Sheddrick Ripser said of Rutland’s head coach. “This has become a good clean rivalry, and it’s good for Macon sports. We are expecting a big crowd, especially since it is our first game, and everyone is hungry for football. Our kids know that we are a target for all the Macon schools, and we accept that, but when it comes down to it, it’s just one more game on our schedule that we need to win.”
Westside will rely heavily on senior running back Cedric Hollingshed.
“Cedric told me that he wants to carry the load, and he will be a workhorse for us,” Risper said. “It’s great to have someone like him in the backfield, and everyone is excited about getting the season started, but we have been able to maintain our focus, which we have to do to get ready for Friday night. We expect a very good Rutland football team to play a great football game.”
For Collins, who has to replace workhorse running back Montez Kinder, as well as Georgia signee Shakenneth Williams on offense, it’s a matter of getting over the hump.
“Robert Davis and Coach Risper have put together a great program at Westside, and for us to beat them we have to have someone step up and make a big play for us,” Collins said. “Right now they are the standard for football in this city, and for us to get there, we have to beat them. We feel like we have a good football team this year, but we will need our returners to step up and lead.”
Rutland will be more of a running back by committee team this year, led by TJ Faulks, but has quarterback Timori Northcutt and wide receiver Dallas Smith back in the fold, as well as returning offensive lineman Derick Moye.
Defensively the Hurricanes will look to returning starters BJ Bawn, Malik Spivey, Will Scruggs, Jimel Dean and LaDarion Womack to lead the way.
“Our kids have grown up with those players and have played with them before, and we have the utmost respect for their players and coaching staff,” Collins said. “But we are well aware that we have played them tough the last couple of years. We have worked hard to get ready for this season, and we can’t wait to get on the field in front of a huge crowd on Friday night.”