Baylor goes for 4 in a row over arch rival McCallie - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Baylor goes for 4 in a row over arch rival McCallie

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Matt Oellerich's most recent win is without a doubt one of the high points of his career.

But the week following a 42-14 drubbing of previously top-ranked Ensworth actually has the Baylor quarterback thinking more about one of the lowest.

The senior's first career start came four years ago as a wide-eyed, 14-year-old freshman in front of thousands of screaming fans at Finley Stadium against arch rival McCallie, whom No. 1 Baylor will host in this week's Friday Night Football Game of the Week.

"We lost 24-3 and Jay Fullam had a pick-six on me," Oellerich said of the 2008 contest. "It was wild. It was intense and crazy, but those experiences are what make you a good football player."

Four years later, Oellerich is indeed a much better football player, and Baylor is a much better team. The Red Raiders (5-0) have won three straight against their crosstown rival since that 2008 loss, which was the last of eleven straight wins for the Blue Tornado.

"There was a little bit of a pressure there to end that streak, so it's nice to have that off our back," Oellerich said. "I remember our freshman and sophomore year feeling all the added stress around that game, so it's nice now to just get back to having a good rivalry and having fun playing football."

Across town, McCallie doesn't feel there's a monkey on its back yet. First-year head coach Bubba Simmons is 0-0 for his career against Baylor, so recent history doesn't include him.

"I don't think we've really talked about it too much," senior defensive lineman Josh Bandy said of his team's three straight losses to Baylor. "We're just approaching it as any other league game."

One thing McCallie has talked about is the No. 1 ranking Baylor will bring into the matchup.

The Blue Tornado (3-1) has already played the state's top-ranked team once this year, falling 28-10 on the road at then-No. 1 Ensworth three weeks ago. McCallie is excited for a second chance at knocking off a top-ranked team, and the fact that it's Baylor makes it even better.

"We were really frustrated after that game," said receiver Sam Berry. "We know we didn't play a full 48 minutes. We played a really good three-and-a-half quarters, but we didn't finish.

"Now our motto for this week and the rest of the season is to finish, and that's something I feel really confident we're going to do."

The week brings a few added distractions on both campuses, but both coaches have praised their team's focus so far in practice. Still, they know that come Friday emotions will run high, and they believe that's a good thing.

"I don't think you can calm them down, and I don't think you want to calm them down," Simmons said. "I think it's important for them to be excited and be emotional, but you have to play through it.

"Once you get out there and start playing, usually after the first or second play of the game all that is gone and it's down to business and everyone is focused."

Kickoff from Baylor's Heywood Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday night, with a full wrap-up to follow on Channel 3's Friday Night Football starting at 11:10 p.m. ET.

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