Jonathan Alder receiver Jackson Izzard (5) picks up yardage during last week’s game against North Union. The unbeaten Pioneers will play at Kenton Ridge tonight. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
It’s been a lofty first portion of the 2019 regular season for the Jonathan Alder High School football squad.
The 5-0 Pioneers are ranked third in this week’s Associated Press Division III state poll.
They are also first in Region 11 of the state computer ratings that will determine playoff teams.
The second half of the season, however, will begin tonight with a road game against Kenton Ridge (4-1).
“Winning this game will be vital in our goal of capturing a Central Buckeye Conference championship and also for the playoff picture,” said Alder head coach Brett Glass. “Hopefully, we can beat a quality team in Kenton Ridge and earn some high computer points.”
The Cougars will throw multiple offensive looks at the Pioneers.
“They will line up with a tight end and also use the spread,” said Glass.
Kenton Ridge’s offense is guided by quarterback Dylan Lemen, whom the Alder coach labels “one of the best in the CBC.”
He’s completed 51-of-82 passes for a conference-leading leading 1,169 yards and 13 touchdowns. Lemen has, however, been picked off 11 times.
The signal-caller’s favorite receivers are Calvin Dibert (20 catches, 660 yards) and Carson Jones (16 for 124).
Lemen is also the Cougars’ primary ground gainer with 607 yards on 71 carries.
“We’ve got to stop Lemen and Dibert,” said Glass. “Kenton Ridge is going to get yardage on us, but we have to stop them from making big plays.
“They have a quick-strike offense,” he added. “We have to make them drive the field and earn everything they get.”
Kenton Ridge uses a 4-3 defensive front, which is different from the 50 look of year’s past.
“They’re not as big on defense, but they’ve traded size for speed,” said Glass. “Their linebackers (including Kaelan Lemen, Jordan Ward and Jordon Miller) are the best part of their defense.
“They run to the ball very well.”
Glass said the Pioneers will have to maintain their offensive balance in order to move the ball against the Cougars.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons with various ways of advancing the ball,” he said.
Running back Garret Proxmire leads the CBC in rushing with 682 yards, while quarterback JT Keith is fourth in passing yardage with 739.
Glass also said winning the turnover battle will be vital for an Alder victory.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of protecting the ball this season,” he said.
Keith has suffered only one interception, as compared to 10 touchdown passé,s and the Pioneers have suffered very few fumbles.
“We’ve also done a pretty good job of taking away the ball from our opponents,” said Glass. “That’s going to be very important on Friday.”
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