|Jays take a ‘Long’ look at Senecas|
|Friday, November 15, 2013 10:02 PM|
By JIM METCALFE
The eighth-seeded St. John’s football team knocked off top-seeded Leipsic 33-18 on the road last Saturday night to open Region 26 action.
The Blue Jays (7-4) look to knock off another higher-seeded unit, the fourth-seeded Tiffin Calvert Senecas, tonight in Region 26 semifinal action at a familiar spot: Findlay’s Donnell Stadium.
For Blue Jays head coach Todd Schulte and his staff, the defense must zero in on dual-threat quarterback Tyler Long operating out of the spread offense.
“Of all the teams we have faced this year, this is one that is most a one-man gang on offense. Long does everything for them: he has the ball in his hands all the time and does the bulk of the running and, of course, the passing,” he explained. “He has about 1,400 yards rushing and over 1,000 passing. He goes about 6-3, 190, and he seems more comfortable at running the ball than throwing. Once he gets to the edge, he can simply outrun defenders; he’s pretty quick and athletic. They design a lot of runs for him at quarterback: powers, counters, the typical spread-offense running plays. However, they can tighten it up, put him at tailback and hand him the ball.
“Up front offensively, they have good size but they are not overly big; they are very typical of the type of teams we have faced this year.”
A Blue Jay defensive unit surrendering 22.6 points and 349.9 yards (199.5 rushing) per game, senior linebacker Cody Looser (76 solo stops, 45 assists) and junior linebacker Austin Heiing (55 and 34) lead the way, along with junior Hays (45 and 32; 2 picks) and sophomore Jordan Mohler (48 and 16; 2 picks) out of the secondary, senior Tyler Jettinghoff (37 and 22), senior linemen Jason Wittler (22 and 29) and Luke MacLennan (37 and 11) and senior cornerback Ben Wrasman (33 and 9; 37 punts, 37.4-yard average).
“Their defense is a mix between what we saw against Minster — a read-and-react look — and the aggressive, get-in-the-backfield unit last week against Leipsic; they are in-between,” Schulte continued. “What they do that is a prime concern is multiple looks up front; that always means your offensive line has to be on its toes and immediately know who they have to block.”
The Blue Jay offense, averaging 24.5 points and 281.1 yards (233.1 rushing), is paced by the 3-headed backfield tandem of tailback Jettinghoff (206 rushes, 1,188 yards, 22 touchdowns; 7 catches, 73 yards), fullback MacLennan (86 rushes, 750 yards, 7; 14 catches, 243 yards, 2) and junior quarterback Nick Martz (116 rushes, 583 yards, 5; 39-of-100 passing, 2 scores, 10 picks). Hays (6 catches, 69 yards), Wrasman (5 for 38; 30-of-36 extra points, 1 field goal for 33 points) and senior Andy May (5 for 82) are other targets outside. Road-graders up front include senior tackle Spencer Ginter (13 pancake blocks), junior guard Wes Buettner (6) and senior center Ryan Shumaker (4), along with MacLennan from the fullback spot (4).
“Teams are very aware that we want to run the ball, so we have to establish the line of scrimmage. If we do that — execute up front especially — that opens other things up,” Schulte explained. “Defensively, we don’t want to give up the big plays. At this time of year, that is very important; you want an offense to earn every point they get. If they can drive the field on us, then we had to adjust.”
Big plays were crucial in the Jays’ opening playoff victory.
“We had two big plays for touchdowns in the first quarter and that seemed to take the wind out of their sails. We have become more of a grind-it-out offense; we started to do more of that as the game wore on,” he added. “I felt we started to wear on them midway through the second period and also in the fourth.
“Defensively, our cornerbacks — Ben and Jordan — maybe had the best game they have had as a tandem this year. Leipsic wanted to get deep on them and they never really did. Outside of a couple of drives, we played a solid defensive game.”
Calvert (7-4, 6-1 Midland Athletic Conference) ousted Edon 34-31 in their post-season opener.
Long leads an offense that averages 26.5 points and 323.6 yards total (220.7 yards rushing) with 234 totes for 1,370 yards (15 scores) and 59-of-146 passing for 1,056 yards (12 TDs, 10 picks).
However, other contributors are Austin Ball (112 rushes, 635 yards, 9), Adam Recker (101 attempts, 438 yards), Donovan Stith (23 catches, 495 yards, 5), Dan Reineke (19 catches, 286 yards, 3) and kicker/punter Michael Smith (40 points; 34 punts, 39.4-yard average),
A defense that cedes 19.7 points and 260.6 yards (131.7 rushing) is led by Reineke (6 interceptions), Drew Ritzler (3) and Recker and Long (2 each).
Kickoff is 7 p.m. tonight, with St. John’s the home team.