To think they had a chip on their shoulders the first time.

After a surprisingly lopsided 42-12 loss on Sept. 7, the Brewer football team will visit Brunswick High School again tonight for a Class B North regional final rematch. It’ll be the fourth time the two sides have met in the past 12 months, and after a 49-0 torching in this game last season, the Dragons are going for three in a row.

You don’t need to tell them about revenge.

“We know they’re going to come after us,” senior wide receiver/defensive end Jackson Gordon said. “They still have a chip on their shoulder from last year and earlier this season. They’ve beaten us before, they did it last regular season (34-27 at Brewer), so they’re definitely capable of doing it. We’re not taking them for granted and we’re going to get after each other this week.”

It was the same mindset for Brunswick heading into the regular season meeting, but early turnovers led to points and the game was out of reach quickly. The Dragons held Brewer to zero first-half points and kept senior Ray Wood under 100 yards on 27 carries.

“We knew our keys going into the game and we knew what they wanted to do,” senior Aaron Carlton said. “We knew they wanted to give Wood the ball. We pretty much were keying him most of the game and we’re pretty much ready for anything that they throw at us.”

“They had some turnovers,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “We just capitalized on their poor play. Not to take away from how good the offense, defense and special teams played. We really played well and combined with their poor play, it turned into a rout.”

This time around, Cooper and his coaches expect a lot more of Wood. The senior, also a starting linebacker, comes in at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds. On the ground, he’s amassed 1,821 yards and 27 touchdowns in just nine games this season.

“We know they’re capable of beating us,” Cooper said. “They’re a big team. Like playing a college team, my kids are just poised, and prepared and excited to get back to the state game. They have been and it’s pretty special to watch.”

Wood is one of multiple Brewers players over 6-feet tall and size is something the Witches have taken advantage of in their eight wins. Only Brunswick, which has far more speed than size on both sides of the ball, has combated Wood and company.

As senior running back/linebacker Jesse Devereaux, standing at 5-foot-7, proved in the first meeting, there’s one sure-fire way to bring the big players down.

“Just tackle low,” Cooper said. “Low man usually wins in football.”

“He’s big, but we’re fast,” defensive end Jaznel Burns said. “We’re faster than them. Even if it takes us all 11 guys on the field to take him down, that’s what we’ll do.”

In last season’s regional final, Wood was held to 47 yards and Dylan Severance was stuffed for 27 on 13 carries.

Despite the familiarity, Brunswick doesn’t expect much to change on offense for the Witches — they’ve got size and they’re going to use it.

“I think they’ll probably stick to running Wood a lot of the game,” senior running back/corner back Ben Palizay said. “We’re just going to have to have all 11 guys to the ball and make sure the defensive line’s got some penetration.”

“I don’t think I’ll see a whole lot of changes from them,” Cooper said. “But if they change some things up, it won’t surprise us. We’re ready for anything that they want to do.”

With over 40 points lighting up the scoreboard each game, Brunswick will be less focused on the offense tonight — it gave the Witches fits last time out.

It’ll be the defense that can cement another trip to the state championship. All the Dragons have to do is be prepared for anything.

“I’d say stopping Wood is definitely a big part of it, but they also have other guys that are capable of scoring, so just keeping an eye on everyone,” Burns said.

“Just being ready for any trick plays they’re going to throw at us,” Carlton added. “Based on the last game, they’re going to know we’re going to try and stop them tackle-to-tackle, but they’re going to have to throw at us whatever they got.”

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