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Friday Night Rivals: Ridgeland at NW Whitfield on the CW Chattanooga

Azavier Blackwell scores a touchdown against Chattooga County. The Ridgeland Panthers face Northwest Whitfield in a Region 6 AAAA game Friday. Photo: WTVC Sports

It's time to take an up close look at Friday's broadcast game on the CW Chattanooga.

That's Friday Night Rivals -- and it's a doozy Friday night.

Ridgeland at Northwest Whitfield.

A pivotal Region 6 AAAA tilt.

Northwest Whitfield coach Josh Robinson quickly described Ridgeland. "They're the fastest team we played."

Ridgeland has Markeith Montgomery and Jalyn Shelton, but there's also Azavier Blackwell.

Robinson spoke candidly about the Panthers speed. "I've told our kids this, so I'm not hiding anything. We looked like a middle school team defensively versus their offense last year. They were just so much faster than us. "

And it's not just on offense. Robinson elaborated, "They have speed everywhere. They're just a different breed than what we've played. And I also think we're different than the guys they played."

That is true.

Northwest brings the very fast quarterback Luke Shiflett into the fold.

He also has a good arm.

Ridgeland coach Wesley Tankersley said, "He's definitely a difference maker. Him being able to not only use his arms, but his legs as well definitely creates a lot of problems for a defense."

Add in the bruising, powerful back Dominique Sistrunk, one of the biggest backs in our area.

Ridgeland's coach says his team needs to stop him before he gets rolling.

Tankersley shared the advice he's given his defensive troops, "You're going to have to be ultra aggressive and you're going to have to be ready for that early on because he's going to be able to bring a load with him."

In its first four games, Ridgeland has scored 159 points and only given up 21. Tankersley said his defense has made a mark. "This is probably the best four games we've played defensively since I've been here. "

It's the first region game for both teams.

They know what's on the line.

Robinson's position. "It really will have a bearing in the playoff picture, possibly for the region championship."

Tankersley down't downplay it as well. "Now we're going into the region play and that's what matters toward the state playoffs."

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