PDT Sports Writer
With SOC II play starting Friday night with a trip to Waverly, Valley coach Darren Crabtree felt last week’s 62-29 win over previously-unbeaten South Point did more for his team other than handing the Pointers their first loss.
“The biggest thing is that I think we regained confidence after a very lackluster (27-7) performance against Chesapeake,” Crabtree said. “We came out and played with so much more emotion and intensity against South Point and we didn’t think it would be quite as easy as it was to be honest. I think the realization is that if you go out and play hard, good things can happen to you and I think our kids realized that again.”
The ninth-ranked Indians in the latest Associated Press Division VI poll, who scored 62 points against South Point last Friday and 56 points two weeks prior at Coal Grove, are looking to orchestrate another high-offensive outburst when they take on a Tigers squad that may be coming off a 35-27 loss a week ago to the previously-mentioned Hornets. Hover, they do have the capability to chew up yards and put points on the board. One way for Valley to keep the Waverly offense on the sidelines is to have a repeat performance turned in by senior tailback Nate Arnett, who rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns on just nine first half carries.
Crabtree reminded his team earlier this week that everyone is undefeated coming into conference play.
“They have the same goals in mind as we do and being the defending champions for two years in a row, there’s a little bit more pressure but everyone’s going to come out and give us their best shot,” Crabtree said. “After the way we played Friday, we realized that if we play well, we have a good chance of winning any game we line up in the rest of the year.”
For Chris Crabtree, no relation to his coaching counterpart, his first year at the helm of the 2-3 Tiger program, is looking for a signature victory and he feels there is a way to end the Indians’ 25-game regular season winning streak.
“With what we have been able to do, there are places we should be able to run the ball,” Chris Crabtree said earlier this week in an interview with the Pike County News Watchman. “We should be able to take our shots at throwing the ball here and there.
“We’ve done a good job at finding the creases in defense. Every defense naturally has (a) hole here or there and we have to find that.”
The key to finding those holes could be from the play of senior running back Amin Gilbert, who made the switch to the position after previously playing as a wide receiver. Although he was held to 68 yards rushing on 15 attempts against Coal Grove, Gilbert ran for 224 yards on 26 totes two weeks ago in a 56-48 win against Alexander.
Darren Crabtree has noticed this week’s foe has made the concerted effort to establish the running game and give time for the defense to rest.
“They are running the ball more efficiently and they’ve got a couple of real nice running backs (Gilbert and Devon Rigsby) that have been able to put up some nice numbers,” Darren Crabtree said. “That’s the one thing that stands out in comparison to the past Waverly teams where they have thrown the ball a little more than this year. They’re trying to be more physical, they’re trying to wear you down up front by running the football.”
An issue Chris Crabtree feels his team has been susceptible to is the turnover bug. Two interceptions and a minus-1 turnover ratio last week proved to be an issue in the loss.
“We still have to overcome some mistakes we are making and some turnovers,” Chris Crabtree said. “More than likely, the team who turns it over less is going to win. We need to clean that up a little more.”
Not only will Valley bring a long regular season winning streak into the 7:30 p.m. contest, a five-game winning streak in the series will be on the line. The Indians made the Tigers their 16th victim during this current 25-game run with a 35-7 win last year when the two teams battled in Lucasville.
Pike County News Watchman Sports Editor Julie Billings contributed to the report.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.