Rejoice Christian will renew a budding rivalry Friday when it opens the season.
The Eagles, ranked No. 2 in the Class A preseason poll, are set to host No. 7 Crossings Christian to open the 2019 campaign. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Rejoice Stadium.
Rejoice has won four straight in the six-game series that dates back to 2014, including both meetings last season. The Eagles, minus Andrew Crow, rallied for a 21-20 road win in the 2018 opener. Rejoice returned to Oklahoma City to face the Knights in the postseason and returned home with a 34-13 win in the state quarterfinals on its way to a 13-1 mark.
“I think it’s good for us,” said fifth-year Rejoice coach Brent Marley about the early-season test. “It’s good for Class A. It helps us gauge for the rest of the year looking at that size of the state. It’s not very often you get an east-west game for Class A.”
Senior quarterback Riley Walker returns for his third season as the Rejoice starter a year after engineering a school record offense that averaged 46.8 points per game. Walker, who has a 23-3 record as a starter, still has experienced receiver targets in Gage Barham, Cole Hill and Caden Ward. Linebackers Nate Anderson, Zach Hair and Clint Hurst return to lead an Eagle defense that surrendered an average of just 16 points.
Anderson, also the projected starting running back, sat out both of Rejoice’s preseason scrimmages with a minor AC joint sprain, but is expected to return against Crossings.
Like Rejoice, Crossings comes off of a record-setting season with a 10-3 record, the most wins in a season for the program. Two-way standout Jacob Snyder returns a season after he rushed for 889 yards and 14 TDs and made 100 tackles.
“They’re a really good team,” Marley said. “We’re going to have to play well.”