MURFREESBORO – Siegel football coach Greg Wyant and Ravenwood coach Will Hester share similar offensive philosophies.
Neither coach will have his offense in a huddle when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ravenwood High to kick off the season.
“There are a lot of similarities,” Hester said. “It may appear like an intrasquad to some. But it will be a great test.”
Both coaches said the game was scheduled for Thursday to help promote a larger crowd before Friday, when games are traditionally played.
“This was an opportunity to be the only show in town,” Hester said. “There are some big games on Saturday night (at MTSU and Vanderbilt) that are getting some attention.
“This is like the first weekend of college football where they spread it out. This is definitely the only game in Williamson County. There will be a lot of local people here. There should be a great atmosphere to watch two programs that have had some success in recent years.”
The second game of the two-year contract is scheduled to be played on Thursday of Week 1 in 2016 at Siegel.
Siegel is coming off a 3-7 season, but boasts the top returning passer and rusher in Jordan Middleton and Greedy Howse, respectively. Middleton, who is entering his second year as a starter, threw for 1,382 with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Howse rushed for 980 yards.
“He’s put on some weight, but he hasn’t lost a step,” Wyant said of Howse. “I think it’s no secret. He’s our bell cow. He and Jordan both are experienced. They lead our offense.
“Where they go is where our offense goes.”
Hester, who is a former La Vergne head coach, considers Howse one of the premier backs in Rutherford County this season.
Ravenwood, which finished 14-1 in 2014 with a loss to Maryville in the Class 6A championship game, must replace its top two receivers and quarterback.
Former Ravenwood standout Van Jefferson is now a freshman receiver at Ole Miss. Receiver Austin Percy is now at SMU and quarterback Cole Brown is now at UT-Chattanooga.
“Defensively they are the same and have the same identity,” Wyant said. “They haven’t changed a lot on offense.”
Hester will use running backs Connor Jeffries and Carter Nelson to help set up the passing game unlike last year when the passing game set up the run.
“We lost a lot of production, but every high school team loses personnel every year,” he said.
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.
Siegel at No. 5 Ravenwood
When: 7 p.m., Thursday
Where: Raptor Stadium
Last meeting: Siegel defeated Ravenwood 42-0 in 2012.
Players to watch: Siegel: RB Greedy Howse (980 rushing yards in 2014), QB: Jordan Middleton (1,382 passing yards), K/P Jacob Smith (42.9 punt average), RB/LB Rodney Murray (73 rushing yards). Ravenwood: DB Andrew Lutgens (5 interceptions), RB Connor Jeffries (411 rushing yards), WR Chris Rowland (591 rushing yards), LB Sean Spence (74 tackles).
Keys to the game: Both teams want to play as fast as the officials will let them on offense. Look for both teams to get more than 70 offensive snaps. Discipline on defense will be crucial.
Kreager’s pick: Ravenwood 35, Siegel 27.
Last season: 68-18 (79 percent)