Watson Chapel not rattled by rivalry, high stakes

The main goal for Watson Chapel – much like any other high school program – is to stay in position to win a conference championship. For head coach George Shelton and the Wildcats, tonight’s game is more about accomplishing that goal and less about the rivalry.

“I’m not going to say that none of it came into effect,” Shelton said. “You are playing a group of guys that have been playing against each other since they were in Pee Wee.

“…It didn’t really impact anything that we are doing, because we are trying to keep pace with the conference leader (Camden Fairview). We are trying to be in a position to play for a conference championship.”

Shelton added, “If we weren’t playing White Hall, we would be playing somebody else in the conference and the stakes would still be the same.”

Watson Chapel (3-2, 3-0 5A South) will host conference rival White Hall (5-1, 2-1) tonight at Wildcat Stadium beginning at 7 p.m.

“It is a conference game that we need to try to move past to have an opportunity to play for a conference championship,” Shelton said. “That’s the main thing.”

The winner of tonight’s game likely secures the No. 2 seed for the state playoffs held in November. However, Shelton said there is still half a season left.

“I’m not going to claim that it decides who is going to get the No. 2 seed, ‘cause there is too much football left to be played,” Shelton said. “But for us, they way we think about it is trying to keep pace with the conference leaders and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Watson Chapel is coming off a 19-17 win over Hope last week. Kristen Trammel intercepted a pass with 1:45 left in the game to secure the win.

Devonte Battles finished the night with 149 all-purpose yards and one touchdown while Kirel Young led all receivers with three catches for 89 yards and two scores.

“For the kids, I guess this game stirs them emotionally more so than playing another opponent from another town,” Shelton said. “These kids know each other, so I’m sure there are lot of emotions on both sides.”

White Hall bounced back from their loss to Camden Fairview with a 56-33 win over Hot Springs Lakeside at Bulldog Stadium last week. The Bulldogs put together 540 yards of offense, including 267 yards through the air.

Shelton said the key to tonight’s game is the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

“That is going to be the deciding factor,” Shelton said. “White Hall is good football team that has a strong appetite for running the football.

“And now the have a very accomplished passer with a strong arm and the ability to run as well.”

White Hall junior Kirk Baugh passed for five touchdowns and ran for 96 yards and a score in the win. Kaseem Smith had seven catches for 174 yards with four touchdowns – a school record.

“There are no real secrets here in high school football,” Shelton said. “They know our personnel and we know theirs. We know their playmakers who have shown themselves in the game.

“… It is a matter of us being able to limit the things that they do well. I know that’s what they are going to try to do with us.”

On Wednesday, White Hall head coach Mike Vaughn compared Chapel’s speed to that of Camden Fairview, but Shelton – although thankful for the compliment – disagreed.

“I saw them during the track season and they are tremendously fast,” Shelton said of Fairview. “They are at least two steps faster than anybody we’ve seen.

“We do have a bit of quickness about us and we know that. That is one of the things we are hoping we can capitalize on is our quickness.”

In the win over Hope, Chapel quarterback Kris McCullough passed for 186 yards on 5-of-8 passing with 186 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’m not leaning on any particular individual (tomorrow night),” Shelton said. “It is a collective operation and everybody has an assignment at every position.

“This is not a one man game, it takes 11 to play football and that’s what we are selling here at Watson Chapel.”

He believes as long as the Wildcats can execute in all three phases of the game, Chapel will have a chance to win tonight.

“If those three elements (offense, defense, and special teams) execute their assignments well, it gives us the opportunity in the fourth quarter with a chance to win.”