Griffin Johnson (22) of Marysville carries the ball past a Perrysburg tackler. The Monarchs will tangle with Toledo Whitmer on Friday during the Division 1-Region 2 semifinals. The game will be played at Lima Senior High School. (Journal-Tribune photo by Chad Williamson)
The switch in venue for Friday evening’s high school football playoff game won’t change the goal of the Marysville Monarchs.
They’re “in it to win it.”
MHS was originally scheduled to face Toledo Whitmer in the Division I-Region 2 semifinal battle at nearby Bellefontaine High School.
The location, however, was changed on Monday afternoon to Lima Senior.
The kickoff on Friday will remain the same at 7 p.m.
Regardless of the site, this is a game that will feature two predominately running teams.
The Monarchs have rushed for 3,148 yards and will take an 11-0 record into the contest.
The Panthers stand at 10-2. No season stats could be found for them.
“Whitmer has a good offense that wants to run the football,” said Marysville High School head coach Brent Johnson.
Its ground game is led by running back Jaylen Young.
“He’s very fast and changes directions well,” said Johnson.
Another big… and the word is big…. offensive weapon is quarterback Kevin Hornbeak.
He’s not completely like former New York Giants QB Jared Lorenzen.
Hornbeak isn’t a lefty like the former NFL signal-caller, who died a few years ago.
However, he is hefty for a high school quarterback, tipping the scales at 235 pounds.
“He’ll carry the football,” said Johnson. “However, he’s not going to outrun anybody.”
The only stats found by the Journal-Tribune revealed Young rushed for 202 yards on 23 carries during a 49-16 triumph over Holland Springfield.
During a three-game stretch, Hornbeak completed 22 passes in 49 attempts for 260 yards.
He ran for 173 on 19 carries during a 49-21 verdict over Fremont Ross.
Both Panther athletes may find the sledding rough against a Monarch defense that is allowing only 79.3 yards rushing per game.
Opponents have also tallied only 71 points against MHS all season.
Whitmer, though, is a high-scoring outfit as it is averaging 38.6 points per game.
“We will have to continue to read the ground game well and be in the right spots to stop plays,” said Johnson.
The Panthers’ offensive line has both a quick and big side.
“They’re all good athletes and are good at sustaining blocks,” said the Monarch boss. “Their guards will also pull a great deal.
“We haven’t seen that since we played Austintown-Finch in the playoffs several years ago.”
From his scouting report, Johnson said Whitmer doesn’t put the ball in the air a great deal of the time.
However, Laraby can throw deep if the situation arises.
“Our defense will just have to be disciplined and ready for anything,” said Johnson.
The Panthers will align in a base 4-3 defensive scheme. They also like to use a cover 3.
“From what we’ve seen, their defensive line penetrates well,” said Johnson. “They will also walk up a linebacker (Jayden Gibson) to help against the running game.
“He’s their guy on defense,” he said. “We have to identify him and attack appropriately.”
The Panthers could very well be challenged by a Monarch offense that is putting an average of 34.5 points on the board each time it heads to the field.
The Monarchs will carry the region’s No. 1 seed into the game, while the Panthers are No. 4.
Johnson said field position is going to be vital for a Monarch victory.
“First down is going to be very important for us on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Toledo Whitmer is going to make some defensive stops. However, we have to be patient and just keep moving the sticks.
“We also have to stop them from doing the same and get our defensive unit off the field.
The Monarchs and Panthers have one common opponent from the 20121 campaign.
Whitmer fell to Dublin Jerome, 28-23, during the second game of the season on Aug. 27.
The Monarchs rolled to a 34-0 triumph over the Celtics on Oct. 1.
The winner of Friday’s semifinal contest will face whoever comes out on top of Friday’s game between No. 2 Springfield and No. 6 Finley for the regional championship.
The regional title contest is scheduled to be played on Friday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m., at a location to be determined.
“It’s down to four teams in the region,” said Johnson. “All four play good football, are well-coached and have good athletes.”
Marysville’s Erryl Will (40) celebrates returning a fumble for a touchdown last Friday against Perrysburg. Also pictured is teammate Gabe Powers. The Monarchs will face Toledo Whitmer in the regional semifinals this week. (Journal-Tribune photo by Chad Williamson)