The Division VII Region 22 Final will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bob Bishop Stadium at Clyde High School and it should be a doozy. In an interesting twist of fate, the Norwalk St. Paul Flyers (12-0) will take on Pandora-Gilboa (10-2) from the stadium the Clyde Fliers call home.
When Pandora-Gilboa has the ball:
Jared Breece has had a phenomenal season at the controls of the Rocket offense. He has thrown for 1,974 yards and 27 touchdowns on the year – that’s not all, the dual-threat quarterback has also added 796 yards and 12 touchdowns in the ground game. When Breece hands the ball off, more often than not it is going to be in the gut of Peyton Traxler who has 848 yards for 9 touchdowns.
Carter Nofziger is Breece’s favorite target and the guy he looks toward when he finds himself in a jam. Nofziger has hauled in 69 passes for 861 yards and 12 touchdowns. He will need to come through in a big way for Breece and company if the Rockets are to continue their success.
Noah Good (138 tackles, 14 for loss) is the leader of a very good (no pun intended) St. Paul defense that have very few players with numbers that jump out at you. The Flyer defense, quite simply plays a Bill Belichick-esque scheme that requires players that buy in and longtime St. Paul coach John Livengood has never had a problem getting players to do just that. When the Rockets drop back for a pass they will have to pay attention to Luke Nickoli (92 tackles, 9 for loss, and 11 sacks).
When Norwalk St. Paul has the ball:
The Flyers love to run the ball play after play until the other team has been so thoroughly dominated and weary that they forget about the pass completely. That’s when Nick Lukasko (1,761 passing yards and an 18-2 touchdown to interception ratio) drops back and lets it rip – when that happens he has a pair of athletic receivers in Joey Catalano (516 yards and four touchdowns) and Paul Pearce (452 yards and three touchdowns).
In the running game St. Paul throws a trio of running backs (Thane Crabbs, Good, and Cam Caizzo) at their opponent in a rotation. The result is a fresh stable of runners for the Flyers and an absolutely gassed defensive front seven.
Defensively, the Rockets has put together a strong season. They allow a paltry 227 total yards and 15 points per game. Isaac Stall leads the team with 68 tackles and Travis Maag has 11.5 sacks for Pandora-Gilboa. If the defense can hold up to the run on Friday, the back end of the defense is exceptional. Nofziger leads the team with six interceptions, including one pick-six.
Key to the game:
For the Rockets to advance to play the winner of the Delphos St. John’s and Minster game, they will need to stop the run on defense and run the ball on offense. If they can force St. Paul into obvious passing situations they will create opportunities for the big-play defense to put their stamp on the game.