HomeSportsUSJ football hits road against unbeaten Friendship Christian

USJ football hits road against unbeaten Friendship Christian

University School of Jackson has played its final home game of the 2022 football season, but the Bruins have high hopes for the rest of the postseason.

USJ (10-1) will hit the road Friday to play at Friendship Christian (11-0) in the Division II-A semifinals. Kickoff is at 7 p.m., and the game can be heard on WNWS-FM 101.5 or viewed on the Worthy Road Studios Facebook page.

The Commanders’ school is in Lebanon, so the Bruins will leave their campus right after lunch to travel for the game.

When they get there, Bruins head coach Michael Stroup said the Commanders are a good team that will be a challenge one would expect in the state semifinals.

“They’re a good team with some big linemen up front,” Stroup said. “They’re explosive on offense and physical, and on defense they’re fundamentally sound.”

While Friendship does provide a tough challenge for the Bruins, Stroup likes his team’s chances going in.

“I think we match up well with them,” Stroup said. “They’re basically a mirror image of us offensively, which doesn’t necessarily change how we’ve prepared defensively, but there is more familiarity with what we’ve seen.

“And our guys have been focused all week. We had practice on Sunday and every day since, and they’ve come out every day and worked hard all week.”

Senior running back Kevin Finch has been a part of the Bruins’ teams the past few years that have fallen short of a state championship with runner-up finishes in 2019 and ’20 and being eliminated in the semifinals last year by eventual state champion Donelson Christian.

“I think we’re more focused right now on this game than any time I’ve been playing here,” Finch said. “We know Friendship Christian is a good team, and that’s who we want to play.

“We want to play the best so our team can get better, and we’ve got that opportunity. It’s up to us now to just go out there and do what we do.”

The Commanders’ defense is among the best in the state as they haven’t allowed more than 14 points in any game. Middle Tennessee Christian School, who was eliminated at Jackson Christian last week, and East Hamilton, who will play this week in the Class 4A Division I quarterfinals, were the two teams to reach that point total against Friendship, who scored 28 and 31 points against them, respectively. They’re averaging a little more than 38 points scored per game.

“They’re a good team, but we think we are too,” Stroup said. “Eighty percent of the state thinks we’re the underdog going in, and we’re OK with that.

“We’ll play the game and see if we can get a win, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

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