PDT Sports Contributor
When you look at all of the high school teams in the area, it is fair to say that most of them are transitioning to or already have employed new and diverse offensive schemes as run heavy formations are beginning to die out across the country.
However, there are a few teams that still use the three yards and a cloud of dust theory to make their presence felt and known.
Two of those teams will square off on Friday night as the West Senators will entertain the Minford Falcons in what will be the SOC II opener for both teams.
Ground and pound football will indeed be the name of the game for both teams as West and Minford will try to set the tone through their play in the trenches.
“The battle is going to be won up front by the defensive and offensive lines,” Minford coach Brent Daniels said. “We talked to the kids all week about how it’s going to be a physical ballgame and we have to match their intensity and bring some more.”
Minford has started the season on fire, winning its first five games by a combined score of 196-28. The stretch includes two shutout victories and two other games where the Falcons only gave up a single touchdown. Daniels says that the Minford defense has been the key to its success so far this season.
“(The defense) is doing a real good job for us right now,” Daniels said. “The defensive coaches and our staff is doing an outstanding job. Kids are flying around to the football and are getting to where they are supposed to be. “
Offensively, Minford has used a powerful running game to put up major points on their opponents this season, as the Falcons have averaged nearly 40 points per game thanks to the backfield of Austin Carter, Zach Justice and Levi Jenkins.
Justice and Jenkins led the charge last week, as the pair combined to run for 339 yards and three scores in last week’s 30-16 victory over Oak Hill despite the absence of Carter, who was injured the week before against Portsmouth.
“(Justice and Jenkins) ran hard, it was hard for one guy to bring them down,” Daniels said. “The guys up front blocked for them and opened up holes for them. They hit the holes hard and ran downhill and they did an outstanding job for us.”
West, however, has not had the start to the season that they were hoping for. The Senators dropped their first three games of the year while giving up an average of over 33 points per contest.
However, the defense performed much better in wins against Rock Hill and Chesapeake, as they only gave up a total of six points combined in the two victories. Merrill Triplett says the defensive unit has greatly improved from the start of the season.
“(The defense has) just gotten a lot better,” Triplett said. “They were kind of inexperienced, but now they are getting experience. They’ve played a lot of tough teams (and) they’ve seen about every front that there is, so they are starting to get comfortable out there.”
In order to limit the Falcon rushing attack, Triplett said that each member of the defense will have to execute their individual tasks.
“You just have to play your defense,” Triplett said. “Everybody’s got a job to do. With the Wing-T, you have to stay at home, you have to play real disciplined defense. However, we run a lot of the same plays. Our kids know the offense well, so we’ll turn around and run a lot of it right back at them.
Triplett also believes that his offensive line, while small, is doing a great job of handling the different blocking techniques being thrown at them.
“With an offensive line, timing is everything,” Triplett said. “We’re getting some good combo blocks. They’re pretty good technicians and they’re getting better. They play hard and they work together.”
West’s ground game has been a model of consistency all year long. Austin Bricker, who rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries last week, will lead the charge for the Senators, but he is not the only back to look out for as West will use an assortment of different backs such as Dylan Koons and Bryson Hurd.
As far as the playoff picture is concerned, Minford is currently in, as the Falcons sit in seventh in the Division IV, Region 14 rankings, according to Joe Eitel. The Senators are on the outside looking in as they sit in 20th in the Division V, Region 17 standings.
PDT Sports Report
UNDER THE LIGHTS
Portsmouth at Logan
Portsmouth is coming off a road victory against Ironton. The 33-20 victory against the Fighting Tigers improved the Trojans record to 2-3 beginning SEOAL play.
There are questions at the quarterback position for Portsmouth heading into Friday night’s road matchup. The Trojans’ backup quarterback, Sky Oliver, started against Ironton in place of injured starter Brandon Wedebrook. Oliver made several plays with his arm and his legs in the winning effort.
Like Portsmouth, Logan comes into the contest with a 2-3 record. The Chieftains won their last game, 14-12, over Nelsonville-York.
Notre Dame at Manchester
Notre Dame is trying to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a 41-7 defeat at the hands of Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
The Titans (4-1) will play four out of their last five regular season contest away from Spartan Stadium, including Friday night’s game at Manchester.
To get back on the winning side of the scoreboard, Notre Dame will have to rely on the two-headed rushing attack of Jack Kayser and Dakota Smith.
Meanwhile, the Greyhounds are 3-2 on the season. However, Manchester is returning home after two consecutive road defeats.
East at Oak Hill
Oak Hill tries to bounce back after its first loss of the season last week against the undefeated Minford Falcons.
The Oaks (4-1) travel to East who is coming off of a loss to Dayton Jefferson Township.
Oak Hill has posted two shutouts on the season and allowed seven points in another contest. With the exception of the 30-16 loss to the Falcons, the Oaks have only allowed 23 points in four games.
The Tartans (1-4) embark on a three-game road trip, beginning with Friday’s matchup. Along with their road game against the Oaks, East will travel to Symmes Valley and St. Johnson Central before returning home Oct. 26, to face the Green Bobcats.
Green at Symmes Valley
Green visits Symmes Valley as both teams are coming off of losses.
The Bobcats (2-3) lost 61-34 at home against Northwest while the Vikings lost at Southern 14-6. Symmes Valley is 3-2 on the season with both losses coming on the road.
Green is coming off of back-to-back defeats after a two-game winning streak had the Bobcats over the .500 mark.
Piketon at Chillicothe Huntington
Piketon contiunes its two-game road trip after falling to Westfall 18-14 last week. The Redstreaks travel to Chillicothe Huntington who is still looking for its first victory of the season.
Piketon’s lone win came against Adena as the Redstreaks defeated the Warriors 42-8.
Piketon (1-4) plays three of its last five regular season games at home beginning with Zane Trace on Oct 11th.
The Huntsmen have failed to score in double digits in three of their first five games, which includes two shutouts. Chillicothe Huntington has not scored more than 12 points in a single contest this season.
Paintsville (Ky.) Johnson Central at Ironton
Coming off of back-to-back losses, including a 33-20 defeat against Portsmouth, Ironton looks to get back to the .500 mark against Paintsville (Ky.) Johnson Central.
The Fighting Tigers (2-3) were bitten by the turnover bug against the Trojans as quarterback Tristan Cox threw four picks. Ironton is 2-2 at home this season. However, if the Fighting Tigers want to improve upon that record, they will need to knock off a Golden Eagles team who is 5-0 on the season.
Johnson Central has scored early and often this season. In two contest, the Golden Eagles scored in the 60s and against Noblesville Lions, Johnson Central scored 72 points.