Neither team in Friday night’s Division 7 football playoff game at Covington got their seasons off to good starts.
Lehman takes a 6-4 mark to 8-2 Covington Friday night for a regional quarterfinal game at 7:30. The Cavaliers came back from a 1-3 start to earn the No. 7 spot in the final Region 26 rankings, and Covington lost its opener to St. Henry before winning eight of its last nine and finishing second in the final rankings.
It’s the second consecutive year the two teams have met in a first-round playoff game. Last year, the roles were reversed — Lehman was the No. 2 seed and Covington No. 7. When they met, the Cavaliers rolled to an easy 42-7 victory, then went on to beat Troy Christian before losing to eventual state champion Marion Local.
“They’re the same type of team thay were last year,” said Lehman head coach Dick Roll. “The run the option and the 5-2 defense. The defense isn’t so much to prepare for, but the offense is, with the option. They run it well and we have to stop it. They don’t throw much, but when they do it’s normally for a big play. We have to be disciplined.”
Roll wishes his team had been tested more heading into the postseason. The Cavs’ last two games came against Northwest Central Conference foes Ridgemont and Waynesfield, and the combined margin of victory was 97 points.
“It would have been nice to get more of a test in there,” said Roll. “And if you would have asked me yesterday, I’d have said I was concerned. But we had a pretty good practice (Tuesday), especially on the offensive side.”
Ironically, Minster and Fort Loramie started the regular season against each other, and will do the same for the postseason, the two meeting at the same location Friday night, at Minster, at 7:30 in quarterfinal play.
The first game ended in a 41-7 win for Minster, but Loramie head coach Whit Parks said he and his players haven’t thought about it.
“We really haven’t thought that we have to make up 34 points (first game margin of victory) this time,” said Parks. “And we’re not going to get caught up in comparing scores. We know who they are and they know who we are. Our approach is we’re glad we got in. We feel very fortunate.”
His reference was to the Redskins starting off the season 0-4, then having to deal with some key injuries. But through it all, they put together a six-game winning streak to grab the No. 8 spot in the final rankings.
“It was a great accomplishment for the kids,” said Parks. “But they’re not satisfied. Now we’d like to take the next step, and we’re approaching it the same way we did the first 10 games — we’re just going to try to get better again.”
The Redskins are taking on the defending D-6 state champions who dropped down a division this season. They are led by quarterback Josh Nixon, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards this season.
“I think he’s the best quarterback in this part of the state,” said Parks. “He’s proved that over a two-year period. He’s probably the most accurate I’ve seen in a long time, and you somehow have to slow his offensive production. But he has excellent receivers, and the thing they do so well is yards after catch. That’s always a scary thing, so we have to tackle well.”
Parks said the Redskins will have to be able to run the ball.
“We’ve gotten better on both sides of the ball,” he said. “What we need to do to have a chance in any game is establish the running attack. And this is probably the best defense we’ve faced since the first two weeks (Minster and Recovery).”