By Sean Duffy
The Division II Region 6 Finals features two teams that are very familiar with each other, in fact one could say that these two teams know more about each other than any other Regional final matchup in northeast Ohio. The #1 seeded Avon Eagles (12-0) face Southwestern Conference rival #3 seeded Olmsted Falls Bulldogs (11-1) for a berth in the state semifinals in Division II. Both teams know what is at stake, both teams have the talent, and both teams know that it will take a near perfect effort to secure there spot in the state final four in Division II. Below are the keys to watch for in this regional final matchup.
- Avon needs to establish early momentum– Avon’s Offense led by QB Ryan Maloy has been impressive, seemingly scoring at will throughout most of the regular season. However in the first two games of the playoffs we have seen the eagles struggle in the first half against quality defenses such asToledo St. Johns and Highland, only to pull away in the second half. Look for Avon to take shots vertically down the field against the bulldogs secondary in order to open up the run game that will hopefully return RB Tony Eberhardt , who was out against Highland with mononucleosis. If Eberhardt cannot return , RB Nick Perusek , who filled in admirably against Highland, will be the primary focus of the run game.
- If it isn’t broke don’t fix it- Olmsted Falls turned in an almost perfect performance last week against a really good Wadsworth team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs defense was able to successfully slow down a high powered Wadsworth offense, who was averaging roughly 40 points a game. the obvious key to look for here is whether or not the bulldogs can duplicate the same defense in both effort and execution. If the Bulldogs can limit the scoring opportunities for Avon’s offense, utilize a strong running game anchored by RB Luke Lombardo and RB Jack Spellacy to control the pace of the game, Olmsted Falls will be in position to win a close game.
- Beware/embrace the cliché- It is well known saying in the world of sports, it is difficult to beat a twice in one year. These two teams met in week 2 of the regular season, which is basically a lifetime ago in football years. Avon was able to win that game 31-7. Look for Avon to use the mantra of we beat them once we can do it again. Simple, yet effective for the psyche of a team that has not tasted defeat all season. However, the bulldogs were on the losing end of that matchup and that loss is their only blemish on an otherwise perfect season. Olmsted Falls and Avon have the benefit preparing for a team that they know all to well. Olmsted Falls will look to correct the mistakes that were made in week 2 of the regular season, while Avon will look to have a repeat performance.
At this point of the playoffs the cream has risen to the top, and there is not much difference in the teams that are playing for a regional championship. This matchup is particularly intriguing in that these are the top two teams from the Southwestern Conference. While it is great bragging rights for the conference to have two teams from the same conference competing for a regional title, neither team is satisfied with just making it this far. It is sure to be a great regional final between these two teams on Friday night in North Ridgeville. The Sports on Tap crew will be in full force Rob on the camera, Josh on social media, and me providing a recap of the game for your reading pleasure. Be sure to follow us on twitter @sotpodcast for live updates from the game, use #sothsf to join in on the conversation.
See you in North Ridgeville!