Knights, Skyhawks faceoff in Battle of Chester Friday

The Battle of Chester is a timeless rivalry between two schools that are just six miles from each other. Over the past three seasons, L.C. Bird has swung the series in their favor, winning the last five meetings between the teams.

After a 2009 victory over Bird in the playoffs before Thomas Dale rolled to a state championship, Bird defeated them soundly in 2010 28-3.

Now, the Skyhawks are defending state champions and the Knights are looking to end that skid against their rivals. Bird now leads the series all-time 21-17-1.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game from start to finish,” said Thomas Dale cornerback C.J. Reavis. “We’re ready to bring this rivalry back to this side of route 10.”

In both 2011 and 2012, the teams met twice, with the last meeting being a 42-3 blowout victory for Bird. This season, the teams will play once.

“Overall, we felt like it took away from the rivalry a little bit to play twice a year,” said Bird Head Coach David Bedwell.

Thomas Dale players are chomping at the bit for the opportunity to knock off the defending state champs and to prove that they are legitimate playoff contenders in region six under the new VHSL playoff format. The Knights slogan this season has been to “Bring the pride back,” and a victory over Bird would certainly help to accomplish that goal.

“This is what high school football should be like,” said Thomas Dale Head Coach Kevin Tucker. “Ten thousand people packing the stands under the lights, and getting some good old-fashioned smash mouth football.”

The game features many standout players including Thomas Dale running back Eric Finney, who the Skyhawk defense will need to key-in on to have success. Finney will need to limit his turnovers in the backfield.

A major component of Bird’s success last year was the play of quarterback Terrance Ervin.

“He’s a dangerous player,” said Tucker. “And he’s behind one of the best offensive lines in the Central Region.”

Conversely, the Thomas Dale defense that will need to stop Ervin played well against Cosby in week zero is a focus for the Skyhawks.

“We’ll have to block Darvin Taylor and C.J. Reavis to move the ball effectively,” said Bedwell. “They are big and fast (defensively) and that could give us problems.”

Thomas Dale also features junior Marco Carrabotta at linebacker and senior defensive end Raun Hall, who are both great defenders.

The sense of community and competition the game creates is an essential part of the Chester’s culture – it’s the area’s version of a backyard brawl.

This rendition of the rivalry kicks off at 7:30 p.m. this Friday at L.C. Bird High School. See you there.

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