OHC showdown: Rams, Indians will meet in battle of unbeatens

When one streak ended in Mechanicsburg last season, another streak continued in Jamestown.

This year, the Indians will have a chance to play spoiler against their Greene County rival.

Two nearly identical programs will meet in an early season battle of 3-0 teams on Friday night when Mechanicsburg High School travels to Greeneview High School’s Don Nock Field in Jamestown.

Last year, the Rams ended Mechanicsburg’s 26-game regular season winning streak when John Brakeall hit a 20-yard field goal with about one minute remaining to give Greeneview a 17-14 victory. The Rams wouldn’t lose again until the playoffs.

This year, the Indians will look to snap Greeneview’s 14-game regular season win streak. The Rams haven’t lost a regular season game since … Mechanicsburg beat them 40-7 on Oct. 21, 2016.

There’s an extra buzz in the air this week in Jamestown, second-year coach Ryan Haines said.

“These are the fun ones,” he said. “I want the kids to embrace that. This is what it’s all about.”

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Mechanicsburg coach Kurt Forrest and Haines are both disciples of coach Neal Kasner, who led both programs to playoff prominence in the past 20 years.

“Anytime Mechanicsburg and Greenview get together it’s a big game,” Forrest said. “You look at the two programs and how they’re philosophically aligned and a lot of that has to do with Coach Kasner’s influence on both of the programs over the years. We have a lot of respect for them.”

The last two matchups have been played at Mechanicsburg. The schedule for both teams reset when the conference aligned into two divisions last year, sending Greeneview to Mechanicsburg for a second straight season.

“This is why you play the game and why you coach the game, to play in ball games like this one,” Forrest said. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere in Jamestown.”

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Both teams off to hot starts this season.

The Indians have outscored their opponents 140-21 in their first three victories. After entering the half tied at Southeastern last week, the Indians scored 38 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter, winning the game 44-0.

“Southeastern obviously played a really good half of football and took the fight to us there in the first half,” Forrest said. “We challenged our kids in the second half to see what they were made of and they responded with 38 points in less than six minutes. That’s a pretty good response. I was really pleased to see them come back from adversity and respond that way.”

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The Indians are pleased to be 3-0, but Forrest and his team knows there plenty of room for improvement. The team focuses on the process, rather than the results, he said.

“It’s about pushing to be the absolute best you can be that day,” Forrest said. “Our focus is to put our best foot forward every time we’re together.”

Greeneview is outscoring its opponents 116-49. The Rams beat Fairbanks 27-14 in Week 3, scoring 21 points in the second quarter and falling behind 7-3 early in the game.

“This year, we’ve been able to have next play mentality. That’s a tribute to the coaches’ really delivering that home, that the next play is the most important play,” Haines said. “It’s a testament to our kids for buying into that.”

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The Rams are also adjusting to a new coaching staff still getting used to the program, Haines said.

“The kids have done an awesome job buying into all the different coaching styles, new philosophies and new plays,” Haines said. “Our players and our new staff have done an excellent job molding together.”

More than anything, Kasner’s influence on both communities will be on display on Friday night, Haines said.

“He really built both programs,” he said. “He can look at both sidelines and see a coach he molded. I think that’s a really great thing.”

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