Jonathan Alder’s Dalton Potts catches a pass near the sideline against Bellefontaine. The Pioneers will travel to Clinton-Massie on Friday for the first round of the Division IV state playoffs.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
A pair of long-time rivals will meet Friday evening during the opening round of the Division IV high school football state playoffs.
The fifth-seeded Pioneers of Jonathan Alder will take an 8-2 record on the road to Clarksville, where they will face No. 4 Clinton-Massie, which sports a 9-1 mark.
These two programs are no strangers to each other. They played 11 games, either during the regular season or playoffs, against each other from 2002 to 2014.
The Falcons hold a 7-4 lead in the series.
The Pioneers will encounter an offense that is not used a great deal on the high school level these days.
Clinton-Massie runs the wishbone behind a big, physical offensive line that averages approximately 250 pounds per man.
The Falcons, who have averaged 48 points per game this season, are led by running back Christian Poynter, who has rushed for well over 1,000 yards this season.
“They have three guys in the backfield, but Poynter is their No. 1 guy,” said Pioneer head coach Brett Glass.
Quarterback Cory Stulz is a solid ballcarrier, as is Grant Rudy.
“They won’t throw the ball unless they really have to,” said Glass. “From what we’ve seen, they are probably throwing it less than five times a game.
“They’ve been running the wishbone forever and they are really good at it.”
Although the Pioneers are not accustomed to playing against the option, their defensive unit is not going to make wholesale changes, according to Glass.
“It’s basically assignment football,” he said. “Everyone on our defensive unit will have an assignment and we have to know who has the pitchman and who is going to cover the (fullback) dive.
“It’s not a fancy offense,” said Glass. “But we still have to stop it.”
The Falcons’ offensive line will have the Pioneers outmanned from a size aspect.
Just how will JA counter that?
“We’re built on speed and we’re going to have to take advantage of that,” said Glass. “We can’t stand in there and slug it out with them. We’re going to have to use our speed to get guys to the football.”
Clinton-Massie will employ a 4-2 defensive front with a good deal of man coverage in the secondary.
Thomas Myers, who stands 6-6 and weighs 210 pounds, is a standout defensive end, according to Glass.
Trey Uetrecht, though, is the defensive leader from his middle linebacker position.
“They are not fancy on the defensive side of the line, either,” said Glass. “Their guys know what they are doing. They are a physical team that runs well to the football.”
The Falcons are downright stingy on defense, as they have yielded just 94 points to the opposition in 10 games.
The key to the contest, according to Glass, will be getting the Falcons off their schedule.
“They like to get the ball and control the clock,” he said. “Really, they wouldn’t mind if one offensive series took up most of any given quarter.
“We can’t let them get four or five yards a pop,” said Glass. “Our defense has got to get off the field on third down.
“We’ve also got to sustain offensive drives of our own and not give them the football.”
Glass said the Pioneers must maintain an offensive balance between the pass and the run.
Quarterback Preston Eisnaugle, who has led JA into the playoffs for the past three seasons, is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes. He has thrown for 14 touchdowns and rushed for seven.
Jaime Dye has rushed for more than 1,400 yards and scored 15 TDs.
The Alder-Massie game is one of four on Friday in Region 16.
No. 1-seeded Germantown Valley View (10) will host No. 8 Waverly (7-3).
Second-seeded Cincinnati Wyoming (10-0) will remain at home against seventh-ranked London (8-2).
No. 6 Cincinnati Indian Hill (8-2) will stay in the Queen City to play at third-ranked Cincinnati Taft (8-2).
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