Game of the Week: Shippensburg at Big Spring
This is a game Shippensburg and Big Spring always have circled on their schedules.
And this year, this one could be for all the marbles.
"It means a tremendous amount," Shippensburg football coach Eric Foust said. "It's the biggest game of the year. This game is all in. We like where we are in the playoff (rankings); we want to win our division; we want to win the jug. There's about a million things this game could decide."
What's probably most important, though? The Little Brown Jug, of course.
For the 60th year, Big Spring and Shippensburg will compete for the LBJ, a small but meaningful prize filled with chocolate milk for the victors. It's more than just a jug, though, or chocolate milk, for that matter. This one's about pride.
"It's a really big deal, and something I've learned a lot about over the years," Foust said. "It's not something I understood prior to being a head coach. For this type of a game, the crowd will be as big as we've played in front of all year. It's a game I'd rather have at home, that's for sure."
But Big Spring's list of advantages may end with its home field.
Shippensburg boasts one of its best offenses in recent memory. In addition to the stellar combination of quarterback Carter Van Scyoc (96-for-155, 1,643 yards) and wide receiver Cody Gustafson (53 catches, 1,045 yards), Greyhound running back Adam Houser is now quickly approaching 1,000 yards on the ground. He needs just 113 to hit the mark.
Defensively, Ship is certainly no slouch. The Greyhounds boast two of the top leading tacklers in the area in Cameron Tinner and Ian King, and they're going to need to be on their game.
Big Spring has an impressive ground game, which has totaled more than 2,173 yards on the ground. Ryan Adams (141 carries, 1,254 yards) leads the way, with Jaret Petty (76-640) as a dual-threat quarterback. Petty has thrown for 991 yards on a 48.8 completion percentage.
"They have a really tough running back in the Adams kid; he runs hard," Foust said. "Petty balances him well. When your quarterback is your second-leading rusher, you're obviously doing something right."
Shippensburg knows it may not be able to slow Big Spring completely, so Foust is relying on that high-octane offense to ensure a win Friday.
"We have to score points because I don't know if we can keep them from scoring," Foust said. "And we have to win the battle up front."
A win would not only likely guarantee a home playoff game for Shippensburg, it would also be the Greyhounds' sixth straight taste from the Little Brown Jug.
Hounds-Bulldogs at a glance
Game data: Shippensburg Greyhounds at Big Spring Bulldogs ... Friday, 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium ... Mid Penn Colonial Division game.
Media: Follow @liziarbogast and @LindseySquints on Twitter for updates ... Webcast available on www.sesportsnet.com ... Radio broadcast on WIOO (1480 AM, 93.9 FM) ... Custom Snapchat geofilter will be available at the game.
Teams: Shippensburg is 8-1 (5-1 MPC) after earning a 55-12 win over West Perry ... The Bulldogs (6-3, 4-2 MPC) are coming off a 27-10 loss to Mifflin County.
Series: The Hounds lead the series, 37-22-1, and have won the last 5 in a row.
P.O. pick: Ship by 10.