Marion Local (11-0) and Spencerville (9-2) are set to meet Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Alexander Stadium in Piqua in the Division VI, Regional 24 Semifinals. Marion Local and the Bearcats both posted shutouts last week with the Flyers topping Ft. Recovery 27-0 and Spencerville routing Mechanicsburg 34-0 to advance to Friday’s game. The winner of this one earns the right to face either Lima Central Catholic or Coldwater, who are set to meet in Wapakoneta.
When Spencerville has the football:
On offense, the Bearcats lean on the run like no other. Chris Picker leads a trifecta of runners in the Spencerville backfield, averaging 142 yards a game while crossing the goal line 15 times. When Picker needs a rest, or the Bearcats wants a change of pace, they go to either Cannan Johnson (764 yards, 10 TD) and/or Joel Lotz (606 yards, 12 TD). As a team, Spencerville is averaging 342.5 yards and 35.6 points per game.
The Flyers make it their top priority to slow down the ‘Cats running game. Goodwin and company will focus on shutting down Picker and company in the running game and force Spencerville to beat them in the passing game. Ben Homan (98 tackles), Henry Keller (74 tackles), and John Tangeman (73 tackles) will lead the charge against the Bearcat run game. Marion Local has allowed just 6 points per game and have pulled a trifecta of shutouts in 2017.
When Marion Local has the football:
Nate Bruns was asked to lead a team that was turning over a roster this fall. He has assumed that leadership role and is putting together one of the more efficient season seasons (1,505 passing yards, 14 TD, and 4 INT) in all of Limaland. When Bruns drops back to pass he has done a good job of spreading the wealth, with Nick Tangeman (594 yards, 7 TD), Matt Rethman (403 yards, 5 TD) and Derek Ruhenkamp (363 yards, 2 TD).
As always, Goodwin prefers to use a balanced offense that can beat a team through the air or on the ground. When the Flyers run they count on Nolan Habodasz (890 rush yards and 12 TD) to take pressure off Bruns and soften the defense up to create passing lanes.
On defense, the Bearcats will have their work cut out for them with the versatile Marion Local offense. Spencerville will need to limit the number of long drives the Flyers have and keep their own offense in striking distance on the scoreboard to keep Picker and his backfield mates a part of the game.
Defensively, they have allowed 21.6 points, but just 241 yards per game. Cale Lee and Cannan Johnson lead them with three interceptions each and if they can keep Bruns in passing mode they could make it tough for him.
Key to the game:
Picker and the Spencerville running game and the level of success that they have will determine whether the Bearcats have a chance. If the running game can move the chains and keep the Flyers offense on the sidelines they may have a chance down the stretch – if not Marion Local will roll thru to the next round.