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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Week 7 Preview: Ashland Arrows at Orrville Red Riders

Who: Ashland Arrows (2-4, 2-1 in OCC) at Orrville Red Riders (4-2, 2-1)
When: Friday October 7th
Where: Red Rider Stadium (Ashland Fans: Click here for Directions)

Series: Ashland leads 12-8, there was 1 tie (Click Here for Detail)
Last Year: Ashland won 42-28
Last Week: Orrville beat West Holmes 28-21, Ashland beat Mansfield Senior 38-6

Radio/TV: WQKT 104.5 will boradcast the game on the radio and also at
Coaches: Orrville's Doug Davault is 46-20 in his 6th season, Ashland's Scott Valentine is77-33 in his 10th season with the Arrows

Computer Points:  Orrville sits 5th in Region 13 while Ashland sits 17th in Region 7.

Week 7 already? Really?? Unbelievable. Week 7 also means you can smell the playoffs right around the corner. It's fall, weather is cooler, leaves are falling, it just feels like football weather now.

It's also officially cruunch-time in Rider country. This is where the destiny of our team and many others across the state begins to take shape. The Riders simply control their own out and win the OCC and host a first-round playoff game. It sounds so simple doesn't it? Unfortunately, there's 16 quarters (at least) of football in between us and raising an OCC title at midfield of Red Rider Stadium after a 7th straight win over Wooster. I'll guarantee nobody but me is looking past Ashland though.

The Arrows have been the proverbial thorn in our side pretty much forever. They're one of just three teams that we've played more than 20 times and have a losing records against. The other two being Dover (6-16-1) and Wooster (41-50-9). Ashland has also won 4 of the last 5 meetings in this series, with the Riders sole win in that time being a 21-0 shutout win at Ashland when graduated Arroiw QB Marcus Fuller was just a sophomore taking the reins from Taylor Housewright.

No other team plays us as well as Ashland does, and I'd expect no different this week. Let's look at the 5 keys to the game.

1. Riders DB's vs. Arrow WR's. This one is easy and always seems to be the key matchup in this game.  How the Riders DB's will matchup with Ashland's spread attack.  Josh Duewel (17 receptions for 186-1 TD), Brandon Nardo (16-263-3 TD) and Marquise Jones (46-701-7 TD) all were part of 'Air Fuller' last year and QB Zach Bernhard (1590 passing yards, 14 TD) knows how to find each.

I like to think the contingent of Orrville DB's led by Stewart Turner and Drew Brenner (also Wally Woods, Brandon Johnson and Tyrone White) can match the Ashland wideouts step for step, but they'll have to guard against the big play and be opportunistic when Bernhard tries to make the perfect pass.

I think the Ashland D will have to concern itself with the Orrville WR's as well.  They had a good week last week considering the mud at West Holmes.  Our field hasn't been touched (not even a JV game last week) since the week 4 win over Lexington so it should be in fine shape this week.

2. Ground Game.  Ashland only has 464 rushing yards on the season and half of those belong to Bernhard, mostly on plays where he can't find an open receiver.  Sophomore Jacob Alton had 70 yards and a TD against Senior last week, so maybe Ashland has found a backfield threat.

Ashland's defense will need to find a way to slow Orrville back Mason Monheim and force Orrville to throw the ball.  If the game is a ball-control struggle where yards and points are at a premium, it favors Orrville.

3. OCC on the Line. Like it's been in the last few meetings between the Red Riders and Arrows, this one will again have major OCC implications. In 2009 both teams came into the game unbeaten in the OCC, and Ashland escaped Orrville with a 14-13 win. Same deal in 2010, both come in 3-0, and Ashland handled the Riders 42-28. I'd like to think it's Orrville's turn to win on of these

4. Deceiving Record. Yes the Arrows are 2-4, but their offense is averaging nearly 34 points per game, and over 41 points per game in their last 3. In 2010, the vaunted Arrow attack was putting up 42 points per game through six weeks. So in 2011, they're only averaging about a touchdown less per game. Not bad for a team that lost All-Ohio QB Marcus Fuller and a good chunk of their receiving corps.

This is a team hitting their stride and also a team that played a brutal non-conference schedule. Their first 3 losses have come to teams (Wadsworth, Dover & Sandusky) that have a combined 16-2 record. And other than the Wadsworth loss, they have never been outmatched. It's just been a matter of stopping the other teams on defense.

5. No Fuller, same D? The Arrows haven't missed a beat on offense, but it's been their defense that's been the problem. Longtime defensive coordinator Dan Fuller left the program to be able to watch his son Marcus play at Brown University, and maybe some of the dominant Arrow defensive schemes left with him. Through 6 weeks, they've given up an average of 32 points per game, and that's INCLUDING only allowing 6 points to Mansfield Senior last week. In their week 3 loss to Sandusky, the Arrow defense gave up an astounding 747 yards of offense. I doubt we'll see any video game yardage put up this Friday, but it's clear that the Ashland defense isn't what it was in years past. But only allowing 6 points to Senior probably has them riding high and refocused on the Orrville gameplan.

Predictions: says Orrville by 2, which is the same as we were picked to win last week against West Holmes.  I called that prediction a tossup, and I'll do the same this week.  The site also predicts us to finish at the #5 seed in the region.  I can't believe that they predict us to win out and yet stay 5th in the region. says it will be even closer, calling it for Orrville by 1.

It's once again right there for the taking for the Riders.  Just another test in a 10-week gauntlet run.  I'd sure like to see this team put it all together for 4 quarters and make a statement that this is our year.  I think last week was an impressive win given the odds, the field conditions and what was on the line.  Let's hope this week builds on that big win last week and get some serious momentum going.

Beat the Arrows!!

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