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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Week 4 Preview - Orrville vs Clear Fork

Who: Orrville Red Riders (2-1) vs. Clear Fork Colts (2-1)
Where: Red Rider Stadium sponsored by First Merit
When: Friday September 12th, 7pm

All Time Series: Orrville leads 6-0 (Click here for detail)
Last Meeting: 2007 (Orrville won 28-14)
Last Week: Orrville beat Copley 24-14, Clear Fork beat Olentangy Orange 29-13.

The 7th meeting between the schools, and lid lifter in OCC play sees the Colts still searching for their first win against the Riders. This year may be the Colts best chance for a win in the series since 2005, when the Colts advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs, and a win over the Red Riders would be equal to a playoff win to many fans in the Valley.

What Orrville must do to win: The Riders found a long lost run game last week against Copley and must continue to do so against the Colts. Clear Fork has a stingy defense and the Riders must be able to run & pass the ball effectively.

The Riders have been led in rushing by a different back in each of the first 3 games (Week 1 Besancon, Week 2 Pittman, Week 3 Miller). Will a 4th back carry the load this week, or will Pittman or Miller begin to emerge as the feature back? Clear Fork cannot key on 1 player in the Rider backfield, and with the emergence of Freshman Mason Monheim, the Riders have multiple reliable options behind QB Joey Besancon to go along with a solid receiving core.

What Clear Fork must to do win: Clear Fork's offense is no secret, they run the ball, and I think to beat Orrville, they need to take some chances through the air. A Colt team that can break the occasional long pass, is one that is much more dangerous, because the Rider defense would at least have to respect the pass, and that would open up the ground game even more. Without a passing game, the Riders can afford that extra defender or two in the box, and dare the Colts to beat them deep.

Key Matchups: Orrville's receiving core versus Clear Fork's defensive backs. Orrville ran for 184 yds last week against Copley, but let's not kid ourselves, the Riders are a pass-first team. How Clear Fork's DB's matchup with Orrville's speedy receiving core led by Sam Miller (13 rec. for 172 yds), Chase Hoobler (9 rec. for 114 yds) & Dillon Corbett (5 rec. for 92 yds) will go a long way to determining the outcome.

The other key matchup will be Clear Fork's RB's versus Orrville's defense. Eric Cline and Jordan McCune are both over the 200 yd mark for the season for the Colts, and are both averaging over 7 yards per carry. The Riders will help their cause by limiting this 1-2 punch.

Playoff Picture: Clear Fork sits 6th in Region 14 with 3.9 points, while the Riders sit 13th with 4.2 points in Region 13. A win for either team would be rewarded with a nice amount of secondary points, and would help each team's playoff chances.
What a contrast in regions. The Riders would sit in 5th place if they were in R14. Orrville and Triway are the westernmost teams in R13, so it's not unlikely that the Riders would be redistricted into R14, that is if we remain in DIV the next time numbers are counted. This is another story for another day though.

Summary: I'd guess both teams will come in very confident after big wins last week, and it will come down to the team who can dictate their style the best. A grind it out game favors Clear Fork, while a shootout favors the Riders. Orrville throws the ball well, while Clear Fork is a strong run team, it might be the team who can balance their attack the best that comes out on top.

Prediction: I think Orrville has enough balance and talent to win a close game that will feature two athletic defenses. Orrville 21-14.

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