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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Week 6 - Orrville Red Riders at West Holmes Knights

Who: Orrville Red Riders (3-2, 1-1) at West Holmes Knights (4-1, 2-0)
Where: Knights Stadium in Millersburg (Directions Here)
When: Friday September 30, 2011
Last Week: Orrville lost to Mansfield Senior 21-14, West Holmes beat Ashland 35-31.

Series History: Orrville leads 26-12 (click here for detail)
Last Year: Orrville won 38-6.

Coaches: Orrville coach Doug Davault is 45-20 in his 6th year. Kevin Maltarich is 5-10 in his 2nd season with the Knights.

Radio/TV: 104.5 WQKT will provide updates. The game will be streamed online at The Voice of Holmes County. Click here for directions on how to listen to the game through your cell phone.

Computer Points: Both Orrville (Region 13) and West Holmes (Region 11) both sit in 8th place in the latest computer point standings. West Holmes region is stacked with perennial powers Steubenville, Mooney and well as Stark County powers Minerva, Northwest and Marlington.

Overview: Last week could not have went any differently for the Riders and Knights. Orrville dropped a game they were heavily favored to win to Mansfield Senior, and West Holmes completed a comeback dubbed the 'Millersburg Miracle,' beating Ashland for the first time in program history, 35-31.

Orrville has won 6 of the last 8 meetings (outscoring the Knights 80-6 in the last 2 meetings), but the 2 Knight wins in that stretch (2007 and 2008) kept the Riders from the postseason each year.

Five Things to Watch
1. Knights Rushing Attack.  In their 2 OCC wins, West Holmes is averaging 300 rushing yards per game behind the 3-headed monster of Mackey, Gonzalez and Perrone.  I think I'm OK in saying that they won't (or shouldn't) get anywhere near that Friday night.  If they do, they win the game, easy as that.  I've yet to see a team run roughshod over the Rider defense via the rush.  I don't have hard numbers, but guessing the Riders average giving up around 75 yards per game through 5 games.  The Knights throw the ball a little, but just enough to remind fans that they're capable of the forward pass.  They'll seek to execute their wing-t...and throw in the occasional pass (and target Brady Arnold when they do) to keep defenses honest.

2.  Turnovers & Penalties.  It's such a broken record, but we have to talk about it...again. In the Riders two losses this year, they've turned the ball over a whopping 9 times and have committed 18 penalties.  I've said it before...when you have one game like that in a season, you can throw it out the window, but this is twice now we've had turnovers and penalties play a huge role in a loss.  Right now, it's defining us a team, and not in a good way.  If we can keep the ball and finish drives, we'll set our self up for success.  Weather looks like it might be wet Friday night...but we have to hold on to the ball.  If ever there was a week to play mistake-free, this is it.

3.  Injury bug.  Every year, we hear how the Riders need to stay healthy, because we're just not a deep team.  For the last few years, we've been able to stay away from the big injury.  But this year, we lost Matt Davis to injury in a scrimmage, lost Joel Zook in practice before the Lex game, and in the past few weeks, both Drew Brenner and Stewart Turner have been dinged...and now word that Mason Monheim will be wearing a cast on his left hand.  All are key two-way players.  It's not been a good year for us injury-wise.

4.  Wet Weather.  Friday looks like it may be a wet one and that plays to the favor of the Knights in my opinion.  It's their home field and they like to keep it on the ground.  If this game turns into a mud bowl, look for the Knights to pound away at the Rider defense and hope to win a low scoring game.  The Riders are going to have to make some plays on offense early on and get a lead before the field turns to slop.

5.  What the Riders are Made of.  I said it just after the Senior loss...that this week will define this team and this season.  Believe it or not, all this team's goals are still in tact.  They can win out and share the OCC title at worst, they can still beat Wooster obviously and they can make the playoffs...but it all starts Friday.  If they play together, with trust in each other, and everyone selling out for the good of the team, they'll be just fine.  If things start going bad and they turn into a team of individuals, it will be an agonizing crawl toward week 10, with no reward of a 22nd playoff appearance in store.  With the talent this team has, that would be a real shame, and a major disappointment.

It wont be might require getting muddy, and maybe playing through the pain, but all great teams face adversity.  The truly great ones overcome it.

Predictions has us winning by 2, which basically means it's a tossup.  This site still has us as the projected #5 seed in the region. says Orrville wins 28-21.

I'd like to think we've got enough to win, but it's one of those "go out and prove it" things for me.  Can we go into enemy territory, in what might be bad weather, and execute and gut out a win?  It's time to show the character of this team.  Plain and simple.  Do you want to win the OCC?  Do you want a home playoff game?  Do you want a chance to go deep again this year?  It's up to each and every member of the team.

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