Ryland Matthews and North Jackson conclude Class 4A Region 7 play at New Hope Friday.

Teams for weeks now have been trying to play keepaway during football games with North Jackson.

This week, the Chiefs face an opponent with that mentality and a rarely-seen approach to doing so.

North Jackson travels to New Hope Friday at 7 p.m. to face an Indians team that uses the flexbone offense, a rarity in today’s game but a highly effective offense when ran correctly.

“(New Hope runs) the Army, Navy flexbone and do a good job with it and run it correctly,” said North Jackson head coach Chandler Tygard. “They’ve got two really good fullbacks and a good (quarterback) that can really run. They’ve put up points on just about everyone.”

Friday’s game is just the third all-time meeting between the teams and the first since 1989. North Jackson leads the series 2-0.

North Jackson (5-3, 4-2) locked up a playoff berth with last week’s 25-21 win over St. John Paul II and will be Class 4A Region 7’s No. 3-seed. The Chiefs will travel to play the 4A Region 6 No. 2-seed, the winner of this Friday’s Good Hope-Oneonta game, in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs on Nov. 6.

Tygard said the Chiefs can’t let up despite having their playoff spot in hand.

“A few weeks ago we talked about winning out in region play,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game because we know the option is coming and their going to try to keep our offense off the field. Everybody’s got a responsibility (on defending the option) and everybody’s got to be disciplined. We’ve got to keep them behind the chains and try to stop them like when you play other ball-control teams.”

The Indians are coming off a 48-21 loss to region champion and No. 2-ranked Madison Academy. But New Hope made the Mustangs work for their region-title clinching victory, pulling within 21-14 early in the second half before Madison Academy pulled away.

New Hope (4-4, 2-4) enters the game looking to extend its season. The Indians are currently part of a four-way tie for the Region 6 No. 4-seed with DAR, Randolph and Westminster Christian. DAR and Randolph face one another this week, while Westminster Christian plays region runner-up Madison County. New Hope, which holds head-to-head tiebreakers over DAR and Randolph, would earn the playoff spot with a win over North Jackson and a Westminster Christian loss to Madison County. If both New Hope and Westminster Christian lose this week, the DAR-Randolph winner would claim the region’s final playoff berth at play at 4A Region 6 champion and No. 6-ranked Etowah in the opening round.

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