CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Super Tuesday is still two weeks away, but a pair of small schools turned out to rock the vote in the latest online voting for the Friday Night Football Game of the Week.
Copper Basin's visit to Boyd-Buchanan was chosen in a landslide over a big-school showdown between Bradley Central and McMinn County, thus making it Channel 3's feature game for Week 10 of the 2012 high school season.
There's plenty up for grabs in the regular season finale for both programs, including the District 5-A championship. Boyd-Buchanan (8-1, 2-0 in 5-A) enters as the lone unbeaten in the four-team district, while Copper Basin (7-2, 1-1) owns a loss to Silverdale.
"This game is huge," said Copper Basin quarterback Dylan Boggs. "Just to be able to say we're playing for part of that district championship is big. There's no way we could look past this to anything with the playoffs because there's so much on the line."
The Cougars could pull Boyd back into a three-way tie with a victory, which would make for a shuffle come playoff time. The winner of Friday's game locks up a first-round bye and a home playoff game with the victory, while the loser will have to wait to see how the playoff bracket shakes out.
"Winning this game would really help us in the playoffs as far as confidence," said Copper Basin senior offensive lineman Levi Franklin. "It would just help show everyone that we're here ready to play."
The Bucs bring plenty of motivation and frustration into the matchup after suffering their first loss of the season last week, a 26-16 home setback to Class 4A power Maplewood. Boyd had been the top-ranked team in Class 2A for the past seven weeks, but now stands at No. 3 in the latest poll.
"Our kids were very upset that our fans had to see us lose," said Boyd-Buchanan head coach Grant Reynolds. "We had opportunities to win the game, but against good teams you have to take advantage of them because you don't get a lot of them.
"But the kids came to work this week with a lot of resolve to get that taste out of their mouths, so I think we're going to see a great game Friday night."
Junior quarterback Jim Cardwell leads a methodical and physical Boyd offense, which also features workhorse running back Rance Harden. The duo will do most of the heavy-lifting as the Bucs try to grind out lengthy drives on the ground, though tight end Chase Miller and receiver Grant Mathis can also make plays in the passing game.
"We definitely want to run the ball, but we have fun throwing it, too, if we need to," Cardwell said. "But when you can run the ball, you're a hard team to stop. We've got so many dynamic run plays and can work out of so many different formations that it makes it hard to scheme to stop."
Defense is once again the Bucs' strength. The unit, which is led up front by defensive lineman Malik Brewer and Austin Bailey, has posted three shutouts and has held seven of its opponents to 18 points or less.
"They're big and physical, and just good overall," Copper Basin head coach Patrick Daley said of the Bucs. "Up front they will definitely be the best team we see this season."
Ninth-ranked Copper Basin will present quite the challenge with an offense led by quarterback Dylan Boggs. The dual-threat signal caller racked up 142 yards rushing and another 128 yards passing and totaled two touchdowns in the Cougars' 42-27 win at Lookout Valley last week.
"Having the first three games at home certainly helped me find my comfort zone," said Boggs, who is a first-year starter under center. "The line has really blocked well all year, and I've been surrounded by some great athletes that have gotten better as the year's gone on. It's been a real team effort."
Copper Basin is averaging nearly 36 points per game and has been held under 27 points just once, in its 16-14 loss to Silverdale. Its defense had given up just 11 points per game across the first six weeks, but that number has ballooned with the Cougars surrendering 34 points per contest over their last three outings.
"The one thing we know for sure is that Copper Basin is a team that's going to come out and fight you for four full quarters," Cardwell said. "I still remember the game two years ago when we played them at Finley Stadium to end the regular season. We were fighting for the playoffs and they were trying to finish undefeated.
"It basically turned into a 48-minute fist-fight."
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET at Boyd-Buchanan. Paul Shahen and Jordan Tippit will provided live coverage of the game on Week 10 of Channel 3's award-winning Friday Night Football starting at 11:10 p.m. ET.