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Monday, September 28, 2009

After Week 5: The Halfway Home Edition

Five weeks down...five weeks to go. The Riders seem to be hitting their stride, but the 2nd half will present just as many challenges as the first, and then there's the little matter of an OCC championship and (hopefully) the playoffs to tend to.

After an 0-2 start, and a firm grasp on the 22nd spot in Region 14, did anyone think we'd be 2-0 in the OCC and be ranked 5th in the region? You can say yes, but there had to be a part of you that wondered if the distraction and injuries this team had to deal with was going to be the downfall of a very promising season.

We seem to be on the other side of all that, and are playing as one unit on both sides of the ball rather than a group of individuals....but each week presents a new set of challenges.

Let's look at each one....(I know, I know..."DON'T LOOK AHEAD!!")

Week 6 @ West Holmes - Redemption game. And with a potential showdown for first place in the OCC the following week against Ashland, this has the makings of a classic trap game. I'd hope the recent history against West Holmes has us focused on the Knights, and the Knights only.

Week 7 vs. Ashland - As mentioned above, this has the potential to be a game for the driver's seat in the OCC. Ashland has Mansfield in week 6, so it's likely they'll make the trip to Orrville at 3-0 in the conference. Ashland plays Clear Fork in week 8, who then plays Orrville in week 9, so while the Orrville/Ashland game will be huge, both teams will have big and possibly bigger games in the following weeks.

Week 8 @ Madison - Rams are struggling under 1st year coach Kevin Maltarich, but have a Jekyll & Hyde persona. Riders will have to win at Ram Field, a place they're 5-4 at since resuming the rivalry back in 1989 (our last 2 wins there being by a TOTAL of 10 points).

Week 9 @ Clear Fork - This one will be real interesting. Since 2005, Clear Fork is 16-8 in games after playing Orrville. That game was typically held in week 4, but due to the OCC rotating the schedules, the game will now be in week 9. So the conventional wisdom is they finish the season strong. They'll have to get through Wooster, Madison and Ashland (and we'll have to beat West Holmes, Ashland and Madison) for this to be a true OCC title showdown...but this will be an interesting game nonetheless. A new coach and a new offense has the Colts sitting atop Region 14. We've had good success against Clear Fork (7 wins, 0 losses..never allowed more than 20 points in any game against the Colts)...but it will take a special effort, especially at the Colt Corral.

Week 10 vs. Wooster - Nothing needs said. It's Wooster, and we're shooting for our 4th straight shutout of the Generals. Could very possibly need a win to lockup a playoff spot, or perhaps lockup a first round home playoff game.

Simpson racks up yards
All junior tailback Tre Simpson has done in the last 2 games is rush for 315 yards and score 6 TD's. Not sure how far you'd have to go back to find the last time a Rider back ran for 300 yds over 2 games. Tre is the first dynamic, speedster back since maybe Demarkus Robinson. He's a few yards shy of 500 for the season, averaging nearly 8 yards per carry. He's in the top 3 of the OCC in yards and scoring for the season.

Riders in College
A few Rider QB alums had good days this oast weekend. Kyle Simmons posted career highs in rushing (93) and passing (256) yards in a 38-36 loss to Otterbein. He also accounted for 2 passing TD's and 2 rushing TD's. Two extra points were missed that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Tim Hiller had another solid day for Western Michigan in their 24-10 win over Hofstra. Hiller was 34 for 43 for 338 yards and 2 TD's in the win. Several milestones were reached in the game also, Tim eclipsed 9000 career passing yards, 800 completions and threw his 83rd and 84th touchdown pass for his career. He is now tied for 5th with Miami alum Ben Roethlisberger (spelled it right the first time)...for 5th all-time in the MAC for career passing TD's.

That's it for now....on to Millersburg.

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