Sep. 22—GRANDVIEW — Following back-to-back easy blowout wins to open District 7-3A Division I play, it's rivalry week for the Grandview Zebras as they're set to visit Maypearl on Friday.
After a season-opening loss to state-ranked Glen Rose, No. 5-ranked Grandview (3-1, 2-0) grinded out a 21-17 win over state-ranked Malakoff to wrap up non-district play before wins of 53-0 and 68-0 over Dallas Life Oak Cliff and Dallas A-Plus Academy to open district play 2-0.
Even though Grandview has dominated its head-to-head series against Maypearl with a 10-1 record over the last 11 meetings, it's still a game that gets the attention of everyone involved in both communities — which is a welcome change for the Zebras after getting through a pair of blowout wins over struggling Dallas programs (and with two more struggling Dallas programs coming up).
"Proximity-wise and with these kids growing up playing each other in all of the youth sports through GYA and such, yeah Maypearl is a rivalry," Grandview Coach Ryan Ebner said. "We know what this game means for us. We enjoy playing these games. Overall, though, we've pointed out we've got six weeks of [playing Dallas schools and a bye] with Maypearl in the middle.
"During this time, we're really pushing extra running and extra time doing certain things and mostly mental focus stuff while we're practicing to stay sharp. There hasn't been any whining, it's just, 'Whatever we need to do to get prepared for the playoffs.' The last two games, we've been a lot more crisp and focused. Now that we get to play a rivalry game, you could tell they're a little more awake Monday morning for film than they have been."
Through four games, Grandview doesn't have anyone with numbers that pop out, due in large part to starters only playing part of one half each of the past two games.
Junior quarterback Ryder Hayes has completed 44-of-73 passes for 577 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception. Junior running back Casey Cannon leads Grandview in rushing with 272 yards and a touchdown on 41 carries. And the Zebras have three players with at least 130 receiving yards — senior Kason English has 11 catches for 202 yards and six touchdowns, senior Brandon Click has 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown, and junior Carter Collins has 10 catches for 135 yards and a score.
However, all of Grandview's success — 41 points per game and 360 yards per game — starts with its offensive line unit, which will again be the key vs. an aggressive Maypearl defense.
"As I say every week, it starts with the line," Ebner said. "The line needs to communicate and pick up pressure. They like to do a bunch of zone blitz stuff. So we've just got to make sure we're doing those things with our communication and getting coverages lined out, like if the back is supposed to take him or if the line needs to shift a certain way. We've gotten better and better after first two weeks of doing that. I feel like our coaches have done a great job in practice of working these things and telling the kids we need to get better at them and the kids have stepped up and done what we've asked them to do."
Grandview's defense has been led by senior safety Jacob Parsons (four interceptions), senior linebacker Jacob Rhone (32 tackles, two sacks, one interception) and junior defensive end Cane Cooley (four sacks).
The Zebra defense will face a Maypearl offense that likes to try and stretch the field vertically and horizontally in different ways.
"Offensively, they do a good job of getting the ball out in space," Ebner said. "They're doing a lot of off tackle stuff running and with screens. They'll run the screen and go. I feel like you have to defend the whole field and depending on what coverages you're in you have to account for everybody. We can't get criss-crossed on that stuff. Their running back [J.T. Washington] is pretty quick, shifty, has some speed.
"They'll run the quarterback enough to keep you honest. When he pulls it, he can get some yards. We can't be complacent on one guy getting it. We have to read our keys and little things like that."
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday from Roesler Stadium in Maypearl.