RAYLAND - The run for the playoffs is in full effect for the Indian Creek Redskins as they travel to Buckeye 8 rival Buckeye Local Friday at 7 p.m.
The Redskins currently sit fourth in the Ohio Division III, Region 11 rankings and are coming off an emotional 33-21 win over Harrison Central that was in question until Alex Young returned an interception 96 yards for a score with under a minute remaining.
With that being the case, the danger for the 7-1 Redskins isn't in overlooking the 4-4 Panthers, but maybe being a little to high from last week's excitement.
"Obviously I'm not going to tell you I'm not worried about that," said Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor. "We're trying to make sure we have a good week of coaching to get them ready for things we didn't do well against Harrison, and there were things.
"I can tell you today (Tuesday) that they were reminded by me today that if they think they'll just show up at Buckeye Local they'll be on the other end of the score Friday."
The Panthers may have dropped a 48-6 decision to St. Clairsville last week, but both Buckeye Local head coach Phil Pest and Connor saw some definite positives in the Panthers performance.
"Coming off this St. Clairsville game we played physical and we were happy with that," said Pest. "They are coming to our place on senior night and our kids will be emotional and will play hard. I think our kids will be ready and will have a good chance to win."
Added Connor, "We showed the kids this. They did a really good job in a time consuming way against St. Clairsville. I know how good St. Clairsville is up front and they moved it on them very well in the first half.
"Looking at them and what I know about St. Clairsville it really impressed me."
Buckeye Local's offense averages 218.75 yards per game and 16.75 points per contest. The Panthers' rushing attack is led by Austin Marshall's 421 yards and three scores. Signal caller Nathan Kirk has thrown for 705 yards and six scores. His favorite target has been Shane Duncan with 20 catches for 505 yards and three scores.
The Panthers will find tough sledding against an Indian Creek defense that is surrendering just 217.5 yards and 17.25 points per contest, and seems to be improving.
"I think the big thing is we came off a week where our two safeties Blake Roar and Tyler Lathem both had double-digits in tackles," said Connor. "Shane (Winland) and Zach Connor had unbelievable games tackling at linebacker as did Merik Ludewig.
"They compliment our front four now. We need them to step up again this week. We need to take the run away.
"We gave up a couple big plays by (Maurtice ) Hython last week, but I thought we did well against the run overall."
Added Pest, "They have a very solid front four and run a 4-3 defense. We had some kids hurt, but we have all our starters back this week.
"We feel pretty good about what we do offensively. We'll run a little, spread out a little, and try mix it up between the run and the pass."
When the possession is reversed there will be a match up of a Buckeye Local defense giving up 331.62 yards and 29 points per game trying to stop an Indian Creek offense racking up 367.62 yards and 33.38 points per contest.
"We have to stop their quarterback first off," said Pest. "He's a good passer and a good runner. We need to keep the ball away from him with our offense to limit the times he touches the ball."
Young had a big game behind center for the Redskins last week throwing for three touchdowns to go with his big interception return. For the year he's thrown for 664 yards and eight scores to go with 300 stripes and eight more scores on the ground.
His favorite target has been Frankie Kamarec who caught two touchdown passes last week. He now has 21 grabs for 238 yards and four scores. Corey Goodrich has 11 catches for 209 yards and three scores. Mandella Lawrence had three grabs last week, including a 44-yard touchdown.
"I'll tell you what, it was reminiscent of seeing us last year," said Connor of his team's big plays in the passing game. "We were a quick strike team in the passing game and we saw some of that last week.
"We really progressed with our running game, but now teams can't stack up and take away our running game by slipping an eighth or even ninth guy in the box which I think some teams were doing.
"Frankie (Kamarec) has become a good receiver all around. He was always a good possesion guy. Now he's making big plays as well. Mandella (Lawrence) made a couple of big catches last week too.
"Teams can't think we put Alex in spread just to run. I thought he had a really good passing game last week."
The rushing attack is led by Logan Woods with 708 yards and six touchdowns.
Making the Redskins offense even more formidable is the passing game isn't the only part that showed improvement last week.
"One thing that was a concern for us going into last week was turnovers," said Connor. "We had been as giving as people at Christmas time in some games this year. That was an important thing for us to clean up.
"Last week was the first game we didn't turn the ball over all year."