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If this story seems familiar, it's because it should be.
Robert E. Lee enters its matchup with Florence Christian undefeated at 6-0, the same as when the two teams met last season. FCS handed the Cavaliers their first loss of the season in that matchup, a 31-19 victory for the Eagles. REL finished out its' regular season winning just one of its' final four games down the stretch.
This year, the Cavaliers are hoping home field advantage can sway the matchup their way as they embark on the most difficult portion of their schedule. REL has Carolina Academy, Greenwood Academy, and second-ranked Trinity-Byrnes following Friday's showdown with the Eagles.
"It's definitely the toughest part of our schedule," said Robert E. Lee head coach David Rankin."We went 1-3 in this part of the schedule last year, so we've been reminding our guys that we went 1-3 in it last year."
Luckily for the Cavaliers, they've had plenty of time to prepare for FCS given the way the schedule fell for them this year.
"We've been practicing for Florence Christian for a couple of weeks," said Rankin. "We've been doing some things in practice that we're going to do against them. We've got a little wrinkle for Florence Christian so we'll see how that goes."
The Eagles represent the most difficult challenge the Cavaliers have faced all season.
"They are very, very big and physical team," said Rankin. "We're going to have our work cut out for us trying to stop them. Defensively they fly to the football, and they've definitely played a tougher schedule than we have."
REL's main concern is the way their small-sized defensive unit matches up with Florence Christian's massive defensive linemen.
"We average 166 pounds on defense," said Rankin. "I look for them to line up and run it at us. They've got 280, 290, and 265 [pounds] across that front. I'm ready for wishbone and for them slam it at us, and we'll try to get more in the box than they can block and we'll see what happens."
Offensively, the Cavaliers are excited to have receiver Drew Watson back after he missed their game against Thomas Sumter Academy last Friday.
"Watson will be back this week," said Rankin. "He probably could've played Friday, but we were just being cautious. He was a little dizzy on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so we just had to hold him out last week."
Watson's speed helps give REL an advantage on the outside where they hope to exploit mismatches that will allow them to put more points on the board. Last year the Eagles shutout Robert E. Lee in the first half.
"We're going to throw it and try to get it on the edge," said Rankin. "We're not going to get too far away from what we do. We run the football, and we play action pass. We're going to do what we do and see if it works."
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