The Raiders collide with Bedford St. Peter Chanel on Friday at Canton Central Catholic.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NORTH LIMA -- The practice football field at South Range High School is an uneven patch of land, wedged in between the school, a parking lot and the stadium.
The Raiders used the practice field this week, running the same plays they have since early August.
At season's end, there are plans to put in a new practice field for the Raiders, who are in the playoffs for the third straight season.
However, Coach Dan Yeagley isn't giving up the old practice field yet. He hopes to keep using it until the end of the month, anyhow.
A first: Friday, South Range will appear in the first regional championship game in school history against Bedford St. Peter Chanel at Canton Central Catholic. The Division V game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Both teams are 12-0.
"They are good, they're big, they're fast," Yeagley said of the top-seeded Firebirds, who lost in the state championship game last fall.
Bedford Chanel also was a state semifinalist two years ago.
"They have the same kids who played in the state final last year," Yeagley said. "We're going to have to perform well."
Last week, the Raiders played perhaps their best game of the season, defeating Warren JFK, 31-13.
But they will have to play even better to top Bedford Chanel and running back Tony Franklin.
A good back: "Bedford Chanel has size up front and running backs like [JFK's] Josh Cayson," Yeagley said. "[Franklin] is for real. We have to stop him; we have to tackle him."
Franklin, a University of Virginia recruit, has 2,500 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns.
South Range controlled the ball against JFK, denying Cayson a chance to run.
Yeagley said that he hopes for several long drives against the Firebirds to take Franklin out of the game.
Johnston out: The Raiders, who have outscored 12 opponents 496-62, will be without fullback Jeff Johnston, out for the year with an injured knee.
Brad Johnson had moved to the fullback position and taken up the rushing load. Brian Novak has assumed the open halfback spot in the backfield.
The game will be played on a synthetic turf at Canton Central Catholic.
Although most of the Raiders have never played on anything but grass, Yeagley said he thinks the change won't be a factor.
After fine-tuning their plays on the broken-in practice field for 12 weeks, anything should be an improvement.