Levy Cup, playoff spots at stake in Williston Friday

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Chiefland Indians (5-4) at Williston Red Devils (4-5), Nov. 3, 7 p.m.

By Sean Arnold

This week’s rivalry showdown between Chiefland and Williston takes on a little more import than usual, as both teams are alive in the playoff hunt if they notch a win Friday in Williston.

The new points system will require a final tally once the dust has settled on the season, but Chiefland looks to secure the final playoff berth in Region 1A-3 with a win, after Union County ran into a three-game skid to finish its season at 6-4.

WMHS, meanwhile, needs a win to claim a playoff spot 1A-4.

“That’s what you want, to go into the last week and have a shot at the playoffs,” said CMHS coach Adam Gore, who prefers a district system over the alternative playoff configurations. “We’re excited for the guys. Williston’s going to be ready to play, there’s a lot at stake.

“I know this means a lot to the community – the Levy Cup is on the line. They’ve had it the last couple years, so we’d like to get it on this side of the county a little bit. We’re excited to have the opportunity to go play in the playoffs if we win.”

The schools have been playing for the Levy Cup since 2008. The Red Devils claimed it the first four years, before CMHS, under current WMHS assistant Aaron Richardson, possessed it for three consecutive years. Williston has brought it home the past couple of years with blowout wins. This is Gore’s first year coaching in the rivalry game.

Gore knows his team has its work cut out for it in Williston, as the Red Devils’ 4-5 record is a misleading indicator, given the difficult schedule Justin Wentworth’s bunch has faced.

That slate included six teams above its classification, including a pair of 5A schools, as well as the No. 1 team in Class 1A in Madison County. All of Williston's opponents besides Chiefland have either made the playoffs the last two years or, in the case of Seven Rivers Christian, have advanced in a postseason conference tournament.

“We know we’re going to be an underdog going into Friday,” Gore said. “Let’s not sugarcoat it – Williston’s a really good football team. They’re good athletically and they’re well-coached. This is Wentworth’s third year with them so they’ve got their system in and they’re going. They played up quite a bit.

Gore is especially impressed with Williston senior running back Gerard Williams III, who has rushed for 1,289 yards at a 6.5-yard clip. He’s complemented by junior quarterback Curtis Strange, who has tossed for 1,486 yards and 14 TDs on 159 attempts. Sophomore Jeremiah James (28 catches, 709 yards) is his top target.

“James can obviously stretch the field,” Gore said. He’s an amazing athlete – a 5-10 kid who can dunk a basketball with two hands.

(Williams) is about as much as you can ask for in a running back,” Gore added. “He’s a small guy, but he kills it on the weight meets. He’s going to give us a handful.”

In addition to the playoffs, Chiefland has a chance to secure its first winning season since 2013. The Indians, led by a talented core of up-and-coming sophomores, have expanded their scope on offense in blowout wins over Bronson and Agape the last couple of weeks.

Gore said that while Chiefland’s Tri-County rivalries with Dixie County and Trenton have heated up over the last 20 years, Williston remains the most important for prior generations of Indian nation.

“That was our original rival,” he said of Williston. “Those people that grew up in the 80s and late 70s, it doesn’t get any bigger than Williston for them.”