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Indian Creek visits West Holmes in second-straight playoff appearance

November 1, 2012
By FRED YOUNCE - Sports writer (fyounce@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

MILLERSBURG - Every team in the state of Ohio wishes they had the opportunity to play in Week 11, but only 192 schools over six divisions earn the right.

For the second straight year, and third time in school history, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A champion Indian Creek Redskins are one of those teams as they travel to Millersburg to take on Division III Region 11 second-seed West Holmes Saturday at 7 p.m.

A win gives the Redskins (9-1) their first ever playoff victory and a school record for wins, but even with all that at stake it's just another day at the office for head coach Andrew Connor's squad.

"It's kind of cliche, but we're stressing that it's just a football game," he said. "We're preparing how we've been preparing all season. Tuesday was a normal Tuesday for us. It's nice to still be playing and it's important for the school, but on the same token we need to prepare how we did for the past 10 games.

"We're doing the same thing we did every week, nothing has changed."

The Knights, who finished seventh in the final Associated Press poll, come in with a 9-1 record after claiming a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference crown with Mansfield Senior and Mansfield Madison.

This is their fifth playoff berth, going 4-4 in their four previous trips.

West Holmes success depends greatly on its rushing attack. The Knights are led by running back Layne Perone who has rushed for 1,612 yards (34 shy of the school record) and a school record 26 touchdowns. Also expected to see their share of carries are Garrett Mackey, Grant Hay, and Luke Ogi.

"We broke them down statistically and 88 percent of the time they run ball," said Connor.

"Biggest thing is to be fundamentally sound and read our keys. They run the Wing T, but they run it out of a fullhouse backfield.

"We need to read the offensive linemen because the quarterback hides the ball great, and if we get caught watching the backfield we'll be in trouble. We need to do a good job of getting people to the ball so they don't break tackles."

The Knights' line is quick, having converted a pair of running backs to guard. Connor states this makes their offense that much more dangerous.

"We're looking at a team that likes to pull their guards, that's why they converted those running backs to linemen," he said. "With the Wing T the guards have to be able to move. It helps them move the ball. They like to get out on the perimeter with their linemen.

"They'll counter back the running back and they have two guards that are athletic out there leading the way. Puts pressure on us to play good defense on the perimeter."

When they do throw the ball, quarterback Gabe Snyder's primary targets are wide receiver Brady Arnold and 6-foot-7, 240-pound tight end and Kent State recruit Brock Macaulay.

"We talked to our defensive backs about their system and that they are not responsible for stopping the run," said Connor. "We'll run lot of man coverage, and commit the linebackers to stopping the run. We said if you read keys you can tell when the receivers and tight end are blocking or going out on a route.

"If we don't get caught peeking in the backfield we won't give up big plays."

Though West Holmes is so adept at rushing the ball, Connor likes the way his team matches up with the Knights' offense.

"I feel good about it," he said. "We're playing to our strength defensively. We do well against run teams."

The Redskins defense is led in the middle by stellar linebacker Shane Winland and his 90 total tackles, including 10 for a loss and three sacks.

He's also has a pair of interceptions and forced fumbles.

Montel and Monty McClelland have been standouts on the defensive line for Connor. Montel McClelland has 47 total tackles including 10 sacks and 28 hurries while Monty McClelland 42 total tackles including four sacks and 10 hurries.

The secondary foursome of Frankie Kamarec, Alex Young, Logan Woods, and Blake Roar have combined for 25 pass break ups and six interceptions.

The Redskins have give up just 1,101 yards rushing this year, much against back ups at the end of big wins.

The West Holmes defense features Macaulay and Snyder at the defensive end spots and Arnold as a big time playmaker in the secondary. Their linebacking corp is talented as well.

"We thought watching films their pursuit was very good," said Connor. "They get a lot of kids to the ball and do a good job reading keys and playing physical.

"That's one thing that concerned us watching films, is how physical they are. They play in a conference that's physical.

"Their defense has done a good job stopping the run and we want to run so that's a big match up. We need to block to the whistle. Our lineman have to keep moving their feet and finish the block."

Also a run-first team, the Redskins have accounted for a school record 2,832 yards this season. Woods leads the way with 853 yards and nine scores.

Tran Huynh is second on the team with 558 and seven touchdowns with Blake Roar adding 402 yards and six scores.

The athletic Young has improved weekly as the signal caller for the Redskins throwing for 888 yards and 14 scores with eight picks while rushing for 351 yards and eight more scores. He threw four touchdowns and no interceptions in Indian Creek's 53-18 Week 10 win over Edison.

Young's favorite target is Kamarec with 28 grabs for 367 yards and seven touchdowns.

"I like us in spread with ball in Alex's hands," said Connor. "Down the stretch this year he made lot of plays. He puts a lot of pressure on a defense, and that is beneficial to us.

"Early in the season our Achilles' Heel was turnovers, and we've limited that over the last three games.

"That's a testament to us getting better as the year went on. Hopefully we can continue that this week."