That’s because Saturday will mark the schools’ first meeting on the gridiron.
“It’s not a normal road experience, but to be on a different surface in a different area, different atmosphere will help us as we go to Chowan,” head coach Tremaine Jackson said of the matchup. “We just got to be us and prepare the right way like we’ve been doing, and if we do that, then I think we’ll be okay.”
Chowan is the GSC’s newest member, joining the league this season as a football-only affiliate member earlier this year.
However, the Hawks have not received a warm welcome to the GSC. Through their first four games of season, Chowan has been outscored by an average score of 43-10 and by 50-19 in conference play.
Still, despite the Hawks’ record, Jackson is not taking Chowan lightly.
“Listen, no matter what anybody’s record is, when the Blazers show up, people tend to be a little better than what they’ve been on tape, regardless if they were good or not,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to continue to prepare ourselves the right way and get ready to play as though we’re playing the New York Giants.”
Sophomore linebacker Terrell Dudley shared a similar stance as the Blazers prepare for the Hawks.
“It’s never a question on how we match up versus the opponent because each and every week, we challenge ourselves to be the best version of ourselves,” Dudley said. “He [Jackson] says that whoever we play is a bunch of nameless opponents and that we just [need to] go out there and [that] we’re going to dominate. It starts with us challenging ourselves to be the best version of ourselves in order to play the game that we play.”
The Blazers will be looking to build off a dominant defensive effort in their 28-3 win over North Greenville. The Black Swarm stood tall inside the 20, getting two takeaways and forcing two turnovers on downs.
Jackson believes the defense has yet to reach its true potential, harping on the need to prevent teams from reaching the red zone.
“We want to go and play with a level of enthusiasm that I don’t think we’ve reached,” Jackson said. “We got to continue to get better and better on defense, and hopefully, we don’t allow people to get into the red zone. People talked about the red zone. Stops, but we don’t really want people to get into the red zone. Hopefully, we can accomplish that this week.”
Offensively, the Blazers will be facing a Chowan defense that has three of the top eight players in the GSC in tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Traevon Mitchell leads that trio with 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
One thing that has stood out about Chowan’s defense is their physicality.
“They’ll run, and they’ll hit you,” Jackson said of the Hawks’ defense. “They’ll talk trash to you. They’re a physical defense. We got to be ready to exceed that physicality.”
Additionally, Jackson says that the Hawks’ size up front, among other areas, could present its own challenge.
“They’re really big on both sides of the line of scrimmage,” Jackson said. “They’ve got a really good quarterback. … Their record looks down right now, but they’ve got really good athletes on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to be ready to play as though you’re playing a Gulf South Conference game like it is, and in this conference, there’s no easy games.”
Written by Austin Bruce, Co-Editor in Chief. Photo courtesy of Austin Bruce.