Pickerington North (11-1) vs. Hilliard Davidson (10-2), at Ohio Wesleyan: Hilliard Davidson coach Brian White wondered if Pickerington North might benefit from scouting, then defeating Hilliard Darby 24-14 in a regional semifinal. Like Davidson, Darby favors a ball-control, option-oriented offense predicated on field position and complemented by a stiff defense.
Division I Pickerington North (11-1) vs. Hilliard Davidson (10-2), at Ohio Wesleyan
Hilliard Davidson coach Brian White wondered if Pickerington North might benefit from scouting, then defeating Hilliard Darby 24-14 in a regional semifinal. Like Davidson, Darby favors a ball-control, option-oriented offense predicated on field position and complemented by a stiff defense.
“I would think that would help them,” White said. “I can tell you that it certainly won’t help us any. One way or the other, it’s no secret that the key for us is to keep the ball out of their hands and limit the big-play potential of all their big-time athletes.”
Pickerington North coach Tom Phillips agreed that preparing for Darby should prove valuable.
“Every team has an identity, and Davidson and Darby both have the same mentality of running the ball,” he said. “Until Darby, we hadn’t played anybody similar in style so, yes, I think it is helpful seeing it two weeks in a row. The bottom line is you’re going to do what you do best. There won’t be many secrets. The key to the game will be field position.”
White said his defensive coaching staff was especially bowled over by the skill set of Panthers running back/defensive back Godwin Igwebuike, who has rushed for 1,733 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“The guys that picked him district player of the year nailed it on the head with Igwebuike,” White said. “Our coaches, most of whom have been around a long time, think he might be the best pure running back we’ve ever had to prepare for, and the thing is he’s equally good on defense. With him, (tight end) Jake Butt and that quarterback (Mason Olszewski) making plays all over the field, defending them is a tough proposition.”
Davidson brings the experience of playing in the regional championship game for the fifth straight time and eighth time in nine years.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you I thought at the beginning of the season we had the personnel to make it to another regional final,” White said. “I thought we could have a decent season maybe. But when we lost three starters for the season, it left us all wondering.”Division V Lucasville Valley (12-0) vs. Liberty Union (10-2), at Nelsonville-York
Coach Dan Johnson chuckled when asked if his Liberty Union team aspired to achieve such success.
“Are you kidding? There were times at the beginning of the season when I didn’t think we could beat anyone, and I’m completely serious about that,” he said.
The Lions haven’t done it with smoke and mirrors, instead with a one-for-all, all-for-one approach.
“We’ve had unexpected heroes step up and do a great job,” Johnson said. “Last week, we lost three starters but managed to find a way to win. We blocked a field goal and had two interceptions on their last two possessions to pull it out. This team has really come together and done some neat things.”
Johnson said Lucasville Valley fits the stereotype of a physical, run-oriented southern Ohio team. The Indians have recorded back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. They average 246 rushing yards.
“They’re a very fundamentally sound team that does a great job of making you beat them,” Johnson said. “They spread you all over the place and then they come right at you, mainly with the run.
“They have a huge, physical line with a 330-pound tackle on both sides who really stands out.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>
Liberty Union will be without defensive lineman Luke Hannan, the district defensive player of the year, who suffered a broken ankle last week.
— Steve Blackledgesblackledge@dispatch.com