Plainview, Dickson meet on the gridiron with interesting subplot on the sidelines

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
Indians senior Jeston Gilliam, left, and Comets junior Jzavionn Bennett will battle on the gridiron Friday night as Plainview travels to Dickson for a District 3A-2 showdown.

As is the case in any district showdown, everyone’s focus will be on the field Friday night when the Dickson and Plainview high school football teams battle on the gridiron.

However, fans should also pay attention to an interesting subplot as longtime friends Matt Suffal and Joe Price face each other for the first time as head coaches.

“It’s really fun when you get to go against a friend,” Suffal said. “Just the simple fact that it’s going to be a great ball game. They’re going to be tough, hard-nosed kids just like our kids are going to be.”

Suffal and Price were teammates on the East Central University football team around 2000. Price played left guard on offense, while Suffal was a wide receiver. The two have stayed close since then and Friday’s District 3A-2 showdown provides an interesting storyline.

“It’s kind of a unique deal,” Price said. “Coach Suffal and I have kind of stayed in contact over the years. He’s been in this area coaching since I’ve been down here. He was at Marietta when I first got back down here. A couple of those jobs were pretty tough jobs, but he’s done a good job getting things going at both of those schools. I’m sure with time, he’ll get things going there, too.”

Dickson's Matt Suffal, left, and Plainview's Joe Price will meet for the first time as head coaches since playing together on the East Central University football team.

Only time will tell what happens, but the two coaches are focused on the present as each of their teams enter the matchup in different situations.

The Indians have won their last two in convincing fashion, while the Comets are still searching for their first win after falling to Madill on a late field goal.

“Our kids fought so hard against Madill, but the No. 1 thing it showed our kids is that they can compete with anybody,” Suffal said. “Coming down to the wire at the end of that one, it gave our kids a big confidence boost that if we can play with the No. 8-ranked team in the state, we can play anyone.”

It doesn’t get any easier for Dickson though, as Plainview is ranked No. 9 and firing on all cylinders. The Indians proved that in a 26-0 shutout of Kingston for their first district win.

“Plainview is obviously a big threat as a team,” Suffal said. “Whether they’re running or throwing it, whatever they want to do. They’re extremely well coached on both sides of the football. … All around, they have a really good, really solid and tough team.”

The Comets also showed they can play tough in a defensive battle against Madill. The key to the game was holding Wildcats quarterback Kendall Robertson to just 10-of-23 for 115 yards. The signal caller did throw two touchdowns, but his team entered the game averaging 48.6 points.

“I thought Dickson did a great job of playing defense against those guys,” Price said of Madill. “They did a good job in several phases of the game. I think they’ve done a good job of scheming stuff up that fits their kids. I expect them to do a good job of trying to scheme up what we do. They’ll probably throw a few wrinkles in there that we haven’t seen on film and try to throw us for a loop for a little bit.”

Suffal expects a similar situation as Plainview’s coaching staff has the Indians ready to go.

“As good as their skill positions, coach Price does an incredible job with their offensive line,” Suffal said. “And on defense, they have them playing extremely fast. … They’re very sound. They’re good technicians. They tackle well.”