Border Classic on Friday: Rivalry renewed as UC faces Charlton County

Charlton County and University Christian meet in the Border Classic on Friday at 4:3 p.m. in Brunswick. (News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Border Classic presented by Baker’s Sports puts high school football in the spotlight this week, with seven games over three days. All games will be streamed on News4JAX+ and select games will be broadcast live on WJXT Channel 4. We look at the matchups.

Charlton County (3-0) vs. University Christian (2-0)

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.

Watch it: Will be streamed on News4JAX+

Notable: It’s the resumption of a dormant, yet always exciting rivalry between the two smaller school powers. The teams last met in 1993, a 28-0 Charlton County win. Ironically, current UC head coach David Penland III was around for most of those UC-Charlton showdowns, albeit as a ball boy on the sidelines or in the stands. Penland has won three of UC’s nine state championships, a total that is tied for third in state history behind St. Thomas Aquinas and Bolles. The Christians and Trinity Christian are next with nine. UC has power on both sides of the ball. ATH Orel Gray can do everything UC asks of him. He’s one of the area’s most indispensable players. TE Brandon Riddle gives the Christians a pass catcher with TD ability. Converted QB Desirrio Riles is now a bigger force on defense. Brady Wright is a versatile player for the Christians who can line up anywhere. LB Luke Thomas and DB DK Gilley are enforcers on the defense. These teams played four times in the 1990s, with the Indians winning them all (33-20, 34-14, 19-14), according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. They also played another time in 1979, a 25-9 Charlton win. Longtime Indians coach Rich McWhorter won all those games in the 1990s, building Charlton into a Georgia powerhouse. McWhorter led Charlton to four state championships in his tenure before leaving in 2018 for a job at Jackson County. His longtime assistant, Rich Murray, took over. Will this be the time that UC breaks the jinx? The Christians have some experience in that. Prior to the 2019 Bold City Showcase against Bolles, UC had never beaten the Bulldogs. They won that game 21-14. Charlton is 27-15 all-time against teams from Florida, according to the GHSFHA. Charlton is paced by RB Jalyen Lilley (461 rushing yards, 6 TDs), and LBs Jay Harris (17 tackles) and Jorge Rivera (16 tackles).

Quotable: You just got to go into it prepared. Georgia football coaches, the way that they run things in high school Georgia is a little different than Florida. We played [Robby] Pruitt [at] Coffee you know, it’s just a different type of football. To have this event and have so many Florida teams playing so many Georgia teams at the same time, it’s pretty cool to see where we do match up in Jacksonville and north Florida. There’s going to be some good football Thursday, Friday and Saturday. So, definitely looking forward to it. Just got to be prepared. They they live, breathe football in Georgia. We kind of got to do the same thing.” — David Penland III, UC coach.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.