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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well football season opens this Friday. Lets look at some local match ups.

North hosts Brookville. On paper you have a championship team that was undefeated last season and made the playoffs going against a sub .500 team. But Brookville graduated a lot of talent. I am not sure that they are in a reload mode. They have struggled in at least one of their scrimmages. North returns a lot of players and has some big linemen. The Panther quarterback can air it out and if he can get time to pass, that could be a key to the game. I see momentum as being key. If North can score early and get confidence they will have a good chance.

Eaton vs. Talawanda. Eaton is loaded this year. Plenty of talent in the skill positions (Fudge is back) and a big, big line. All indications are that the Eagles will be the team to be in SWBL big school division this fall. Plus Eaton has home field advantage. Talawanda will have their hands full.

Valley View at Dunbar. The Spartans have a new quarterback in Pohl. Word is that he has a good arm, but this will be his first varsity season at this position. They return some decent lineman and some skill position players. Dunbar are no slouches, this should be a good game.

Shawnee at Trail. Shawnee graduated some good players, but they have a lot coming back. They have decent sized squad. They need to watch the penalties from what I saw at their last scrimmage. Trail has a new coach in Graher – he turned around the Mississinawa program from being a 1 or 2 win program to a respectable team. Even with a home field advantage it could be a tough night for the Blazers.

Dixie at North. The game of the week. Dixie has an experienced line and new faces at the quarterback and receiver positions. Can they establish a running game to give their new quarterback time to get comfortable at the position. Or will they throw their wild card early – go to the spread and air it out. South has almost everyone back, so they have experience and the home field advantage. Their offense has been sporadic at times. But the defense has been respectable. Still I like the overall team speed of Dixie, one missed tackle or one missed pass assignment and you have a Greyhound in the end zone. Should be a good game for the fans.
North – Getting Stronger
J. C. Tilton

Last season the team seemed to be young and the big players lacked stamina. This season the team returns experience and seemed to be in fair condition – although they did have some big bodies on the sidelines with injuries in the scrimmage that I watched. Two of their big linemen had to sit out due to illness and injury. But North was able to score first in their first scrimmage which was against Dixie. And they initially held Dixie to a single score. Although they did allow Dixie to come back late in their scrimmage.

With the big line, you can see that North will be trying to move the ball inside the tackles. But with Overholtz at quarterback, his arm will be able to stretch the field. Two of the North scores were from deep passes. And Booth scampered about 60 yards to score on the ground. I can see that the North strategy will be in part to establish the run inside and then when the defense focuses on stopping that, they will do a play action fake and go long. In the last part of the scrimmage, I thought that Dixie’s spread offense was being effective against North. They had an overall advantage in team speed and were able to beat North to the point of attack on several plays. So getting to the ball faster and better open field tackling will need to improve before next Friday.

Second year coach Jason Hart was asked to discuss the scrimmage, “A definite positive was our passing game, we haven’t had that the past couple of years. The quarterback threw well, the receivers were catching the ball, and we had decent pass protection from the line. We do need to work on our running game, up front we need to get better – we need to control the line of scrimmage. And defense we just need to tackle better. We are in position, but we are just not making tackles. Also I would like to see the team be more physical on defense.

On Dalton Overholtz, “We still have our underneath stuff, but with his arm we can go downfield. He has improved in the off season.” The team returns a lot of players in the skill positions, “All of our backs and receivers have 2 and 3 years experience. And our line returns several players who have been playing varsity level football. We expect a lot out of these guys this year. We have a new defensive end that we are expecting big things from.”

On the CCC competition, “Covington is tough to beat and they will be at the top of the league until someone knocks them off. And Ansonsia – they are bringing everyone back from last years playoff team. But you have to be on top of your game every week, because this is a year where anybody can beat any one. The league is much more balanced than it has been in the past. Even the bottom teams are pushing to get up in the middle.” North will open this Friday night against a tough Brookville team that was undefeated in the regular season and went to the playoffs.