NO. 8 ROCKY RIVER VS. NO. 4 NOR­WALK

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS -

For the record: If there is one thing that the Divi­sion II, Re­gion 6 play­offs ap­pear to prove year in and year out, it is that teams with a bal­anced of­fense and a de­fense that are above aver­age see the most suc­cess. Hence why Avon and White­house An­thony Wayne of­ten find them­selves as teams to beat in the re­gion. Those traits are once again ap­par­ent in this year’s teams. On Avon’s side, it is quar­ter­back Ryan Maloy (129-for-212, 1,740 yards, 22 touch­downs, seven in­ter­cep­tions; 90 car­ries, 709 yards, 10 touch­downs) and run­ning back Nick Perusek (116 car­ries, 1,181 yards, 13 touch­downs) who are the spark­plugs of a multi-faceted Ea­gles’ of­fense that has scored over 40 points in all but two games this sea­son. And on the de­fen­sive end, it’s a turnover-strong de­fense — led by the likes of Jack Roesch (five sacks), Niko Pap­pas (five in­ter­cep­tions) and Mark Stein­metz (91 tack­les) — with 18 in­ter­cep­tions and 12 fum­ble re­cov­er­ies that has al­lowed the Ea­gles to hold op­po­nents to an aver­age of 18.7 points per game this sea­son. It’s a sim­i­lar pic­ture for An­thony Wayne, as the of­fense is led by quar­ter­back Max Den­man (123-for-196, 2,054 yards, 32 touch­downs, four in­ter­cep­tions) and run­ning back Ezra Scott (243 car­ries, 1,431 yards, 17 touch­downs) that has the Gen­er­als av­er­ag­ing 40.8 points per game with the low­est scor­ing week for An­thony Wayne be­ing 31 points in Week 2. De­fen­sively, the Gen­er­als have al­lowed only 85 points this sea­son for an aver­age of 7.7 points per game. The suf­fo­cat­ing de­fense comes cour­tesy of a blitz-happy pass rush that has 65 tack­les for a loss (paced by Ben Allen’s 15, Nolan Bishop’s 13 and Nolan Bar­ber’s 11) and 29 sacks (paced by Bishop, Allen and Bar­ber with five each). This game is go­ing to be high school foot­ball at its best, so sit back and en­joy. nec­es­sar­ily mean that facet of the game will be where the fire­works come out. Both teams have shut-down de­fenses more than ca­pa­ble when it comes to the turnover depart­ment. That could be where the true en­ter­tain­ment comes. Which team is go­ing to get that key stop? Get that cru­cial turnover? Score that de­fen­sive touch­down? The Fight­ing Ir­ish have been one of the top de­fenses not only in D-II, but all of Ohio this year. In 11 games, Toledo Cen­tral Catholic has pitched six shutouts and has al­lowed only 47 points all year for an aver­age of 4.3 points per game. In other words, good luck try­ing to get in the end zone. Of­fen­sively, the Fight­ing Ir­ish aver­age 42.8 points per game and are paced by a rush-heavy at­tack that fea­tures four play­ers with at least 300 yards on the sea­son: Troy Dur­den (102 car­ries, 748 yards), Jonzell Nor­rils (82 car­ries, 511 yards), Sharif McGee (60 car­ries, 336 yards) and Jase Bowen (37 car­ries, 307 yards). Ex­pect the ground game to be fea­tured by both of­fenses, as Avon Lake’s Kon­ner Riggs (273 car­ries, 1,839 yards, 26 touch­downs) showed he is in peak form af­ter his 251-yard, three touch­down per­for­mance in a re­gional quar­ter­fi­nal win over Olm­sted Falls. This is un­doubt­edly one of the stiffest de­fen­sive tests that Avon Lake has faced this sea­son. What: Divi­sion III, Re­gion 10 semi­fi­nal When: 7 p.m., Nov. 9 Where: Ranger Sta­dium, 34600 Bain­bridge Road, North Ridgeville Records: Rocky River 7-4, Nor­walk 8-3 Last play­off ap­pear­ance: quar­ter­backs at a record rate. The Truck­ers have 23 in­ter­cep­tions this sea­son — a record for Nor­walk — led by a pro­gram-record nine picks by Ryan Sow­ders. Ad­di­tion­ally, Nor­walk has al­lowed just 10 touch­down passes this sea­son, mean­ing Rocky River quar­ter­back Michael Fin­negan will need to bring his best in or­der to lead his team to vic­tory. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Pi­rates’ de­fense will need to be top notch, as Nor­walk fea­tures a bal­anced at­tack that might skew a bit more to­ward the run de­pend­ing on what the Rocky River de­fense shows. Nor­walk run­ning back Trevon Ray­more is putting up his­toric num­bers. His 218 yards against Bowl­ing Green put him at 2,026 yards on the sea­son, mak­ing him the sec­ond player in pro­gram his­tory to break the 2,000-yard plateau — join­ing Eastern Michi­gan’s Breck Turner. When Ray­more isn’t do­ing dam­age, quar­ter­back Gar­rett Chapin is a threat. Against Bowl­ing Green, he was 14-for-19 for 177 yards and two touch­downs, con­nect­ing with Bran­don Har­away seven times for 99 yards and a touch­down. In other words, Rocky River is go­ing to have to earn ev­ery­thing in this game, both on of­fense and de­fense.

Records: Elyria Catholic 9-2, Genoa Area 11-0 Last play­off ap­pear­ance: Elyria Catholic 2010, Genoa Area 2017 The road here: Elyria Catholic — Def. Anna, 42-35, in a re­gional quar­ter­fi­nal, Genoa Area — Def. Mill­bury Lake, 4721, in a re­gional quar­ter­fi­nal For the record: Af­ter knock­ing off the Divi­sion V AP poll No. 7 team Anna last week, things get no eas­ier for Elyria Catholic with the top-ranked D-V team, Genoa Area, on tap for a re­gional semi­fi­nal. Genoa Area fea­tures a smoth­er­ing de­fense that has al­lowed an aver­age of 12.6 points per game com­bined with a high-pow­ered of­fense that av­er­ages 37.6 points per game. In fact, the de­fense is so strong that only North­ern Buck­eye Con­fer­ence foe Mill­bury Lake has bro­ken the 14-point thresh­old against the Comets, do­ing so twice this sea­son. That makes things in­ter­est­ing for the Elyria Catholic of­fense. The Pan­thers have been kept un­der 28 only twice this sea­son — both of which were losses. Oth­er­wise, Elyria Catholic is av­er­ag­ing 47.2 points per game in nine wins, led by quar­ter­back Cameron En­gr­ish and run­ning back Leighton Ban­joff. So, there’s no rea­son to be­lieve that the of­fense shouldn’t be able to hang with the Comets. Rather, it will be de­fense that de­cides this game. Can the Pan­thers’ de­fense, which has been mostly strong this sea­son, stop Genoa Area? The key will be con­tain­ing dual-threat quar­ter­back Ja­cob Plantz (61-for-96, 1,195 yards; 68 car­ries, 424 yards) while also re­spect­ing the game of run­ning back Daniel Novot­ney (166 car­ries, 985 yards, 15 touch­downs). In their quar­ter­fi­nal win over Mill­bury Lake, Plantz was 9-for-15 for 120 yards and a touch­down along with 21 car­ries for 126 yards and two touch­downs, while Novot­ney had 118 yards and three touch­downs on 26 car­ries. Turnovers will be a key in this one, and both de­fenses have been pro­fi­cient at caus­ing take­aways this sea­son. Elyria Catholic will once again be the un­der­dog, but the Pan­thers won’t care. In fact, that is where they have thrived this sea­son.

— Jon Behm

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