It’s strength versus strength. A high-octane offense against a stingy defense. It’s an SOC II conference clash, featuring the No. 2 ranked team in Division V, Region 17, the Wheelersburg Pirates and The Minford Falcons.
Through seven games, Wheelersburg (7-0, 1-0) is averaging below 39 points per game while Minford (4-3, 0-1) is only allowing opponents to score a little over 11 points per contest.
“They have an outstanding D-line up front, anchored by Cain Madden who’s one of the premiere defensive linemen in the conference and in the area,” Pirates head coach Rob Woodward said. “He’s an outstanding player, a big body. He’s a big presence there in the middle.”
Aside from Madden, Wheelersburg will have to account for defensive lineman Cory Frazie, and linebackers Eli Daniels and Casey Gaines.
“Those four really do a great job of stopping things in the B gap and C gap. We have to recognize that and put our players in position to be successful. Try to find ways to try to find a seam in there. Their secondary does a very good job behind them of coming up and tackling well also,” Woodward said. “It’s something we are going to have to account for as a coaching staff to see if there is any type of weaknesses in that defense.”
Pirates quarterback Kyle Davis and Co. have not had many problems exploiting defenses throughout the season. After a 14-6 win to begin the year at Ironton, Wheelersburg hasn’t scored fewer than 28 points in any contest.
“They’re big up front,” Falcons head coach Brent Daniels said. “They’ve got many different weapons they can go too. We’ve got to make sure we are aligned right on their formations. They run several different formations. We’ve got to get to the football. We’ve got to gang tackle. They’ve got many different options to go too.”
Minford has struggled to find consistency on offense. However, after scoring 42 points against Gallia Academy, the Falcons offense might have finally put it all together.
“We’ve just got to execute on offense, continue to pick up our assignments,” Daniels said. “We got a little bit better at that last week. We’ve got to continue to get a lot better this week. They are going to make plays on us in the backfield. We’ve just got to be patient, try to get some yards in there and move the ball down the field.”
Woodward isn’t taking Minford’s offense lightly as he believes they have a lot of options that can strike from anywhere on the field.
“They have a lot of different guys that can carry the football and do a good job blocking for one another,” Woodward said. “(Kody) Kennedy does an outstanding job of getting up the field and blocking for (Sean) Gambill who is more of the explosive guy in terms of finding holes. Both of those guys are dangerous with the football. I think it really comes down to (Tyler) Compton and (Casey) Gaines, both of them are hard runners. They are good backs for getting yards after contact.”
Daniels believes his offense needs to be the best defense Friday night.
“We’ve got to do whatever we can to keep their offense off the field,” Daniels said. “We’ve got to be able to spread the ball, move the ball here and there. And basically just keep their offense off the field the best we can.”
Both coaches believe the biggest factor will be limiting mistakes and turnovers.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night at Minford High School.
Reach Chris Slone can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.