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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Week 1: Orrville Red Riders at Northwest Indians

Who: Orrville Red Riders (0-0) vs. Northwest Indians (0-0)
Where: Smilek Stadium - Canal Fulton, OH (Click Here for Map & Directions)
When: Friday August 27th, 7pm
 Coaches: Doug Davault (32-14 in 4 seasons at Orrville) & Vic Whiting (95-34 in 12 seasons at Northwest -- 9 straight playoff appearances, 189-62 over 23 seasons)
 Radio: WQKT 104.5 will provide updates.
All Time Series: Orrville leads 19-7 (Click Here for Series Detail)
Last Meeting: 2009 (Northwest won 40-14)

Been a while
It doesn't seem like it's been four years since Orrville has won a game in this series, but it has.  It was 2006 when Orrville last won a game versus Northwest.  The final was 30-14 at their place, if memory serves, it was close until 6 minutes or so left in the game.  Northwest committed some turnovers and we took advantage and pulled away.

Since then it's been nothing short of ugly.  A 21-14 loss in 2007 (to a Northwest team that finished regional runner-up), and back to back whippings in 2008 (34-13) and 2009 (40-14).

Northwest has won three of the five meetings since renewing the rivalry back in 2005.  It's been a fun series (that will continue for the near future) between two solid programs and strong fanbases, but it's time to win one of these for a change.

Both teams come into week 1 with questions about depth, but both also return a solid group of experienced starters.  It will come down to which group makes more of an impact.

Putting names with Faces
For the Riders, it will be up to guys like Tre Simpson (RB/DB), Mason Monheim (RB/LB), Matt Davis (RB/LB), Drew Brenner (WR/DB) and Stewart Turner (WR/DB) to make plays on both sides of the ball.  Whoever lines up under center will be doing so for the first time.  The QB battle is currently between Travis Infield (Sr.) and Kyle Lichti (Soph.).  The Riders also return several experienced linemen from 2009 (Dan Groves, Derek Graber, Derek Vance, Sam Reusser)

For Northwest, they return Cory Hoffman, Jacob Staubs, Gavin Hutchinson, Ronnie Beers, among others, from a team that went 8-4 and made the 2nd round of the Division 3 playoffs.  They return 17 lettermen, but not a lot of them would be considered seasoned veterans.

A new QB takes the helm for the Tribe.  Nick Riley the Indians' field general in 2010; he is another in a long line of tall, talented QB's to come through Vic Whiting's system.  They've churned out quarterbacks like Orrville has in the past.  He threw for 400 yards in limited action in 2009 and will look to adequately replace Brian Jones who led all of Stark Co. in 2009 with over 3000 yards passing.

Thoughts & Predictions says 22-21 Northwest....that's basically a tie.

My other source for predictions, (College of Wooster professor) Drew Pastuer and his Fantastic50 site, hasn't been updated since the end of the last season.

I'm sure the Beacon Journal and The Daily Record (picked Northwest 6-3) will pick the game as well (I'm guessing a split vote in both cases).

Sounds like no one really knows what to expect, players, coaches, fans and media alike.  I guess that's week 1 in a nutshell.  Expect the unexpected.

I'll say that Orrville has the talent to win this game and finally get a week 1 win.  But, if Northwest is able to spread the field and throw it around all night, it will take a toll on us and could be another Northwest rout.

Getting pressure on the QB and limiting big plays will be key for the Riders on defense.  Conversely, controlling the time of possession and limiting mistakes will be paramount on offense.

I like to think we control the game on the ground, and are just enough of a threat throwing the ball to keep Northwest honest.

My Pick
I went 7-3 in my picks last season, down form 8-2 the year before.  I've only picked against Orrville one time (2008 versus Lexington, we lost 34-20) in two years of doing this.  It's a little bit of a catch-22.  I pick Orrville to win every time and I'm a homer...pick against...and I'm not supporting the kids.  I hate both sides of that coin.

With that being said...I'm retiring my picks.  I'll still give my thoughts, and from those thoughts, you should be able to decipher what I would pick, but nothing official.

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