SHUT IT DOWN
Prep’s defense knows its mission against Loyalsock
Scranton Prep and Loyalsock have been offensive nightmares for opponents, Prep averaging 33.2 points per game, the Lancers, 34.2.
Both have standout individuals at quarterback, running back and receiver.
But Friday’s game at Williamsport High School might come down to which team can make more stops with its defense.
The Cavaliers’ defense will face a big test when it takes on Loyalsock in a 7 p.m. kickoff to the PIAA Class 3A playoffs.
“He looks like a good quarterback,” Prep cornerback Sam Dickson said of Connor Watkins, who has thrown for 29 touchdowns and 2,331 yards. “It will be tough. The running back (Cole Cavanaugh, 1,036 yards) is good sized. We’ll have to contain him. Me and the corners have a little bit of a tougher matchup but we’ll see what we can do.”
The Lancers (8-4) also have a near 1,000yard receiver in Gerald Ross (976, 14 TDs).
“I looked a little bit at them on film,” said Dickson, who leads Prep (12-0) with seven interceptions and in receiving with 21 catches. “They look like a good team.”
Loyalsock poses a challenge the Cavaliers haven’t faced this year, at least at this level.
“Obviously, they throw the ball a little bit more than some of the schools around here,” Prep coach Terry Gallagher said. “(Watkins is) a good football player. I remember watching him last year when we prepared for Montoursville. They played Loyalsock last year and Loyalsock beat them.
“He extends the play, and when he extends the play, even when he ad libs, he’ll go deep. He’s got a great arm. He’s an athletic kid.
“So, it’s going to be a challenge, just like every other week. Hopefully we can play our brand of football and come out on top.”
That brand of football includes a punishing defense that has limited opponents to 7.1 points per game.
“We’re playing as a team, playing with a lot of heart,” Dickson said. “We just want to win. We have each other’s backs.
“Since I’ve been on this team, three years ago, we’ve always been together, always been a strong unit. No matter what, if an injury comes up, it’s about a whole team.”
Question is, can Loyalsock, allowing 20 points per game, slow down the high-octane Cavaliers, especially with junior quarterback Leo O’Boyle stepping up his game in recent weeks. He’s thrown 10 TDs in the last three while completing 71 percent (22 of 31) of his passes.
“I think our passing game has improved drastically over the past few weeks,” Gallagher said. “Obviously, it’s his first year starting this year, and I think he got better and better each and every week. I think he’s learned when to move out of the pocket, when to take chances, when to gamble, when not to. He’s a special kid.
“Our receivers have picked it up. They feel comfortable with him. But again I think we got kids in the mix. Some guys went down, some guys got hurt. We had a bunch of kids that came in that replaced other guys, so we’re definitely deeper than we’ve been in the past.”
Scranton Prep cornerback Sam Dickson is part of a defense allowing 7.1 points per game this season.
Scranton Prep’s Sam Dickson (6) runs the ball during the District 2 Class 3A football championship against Lake-Lehman.