PREP PREVIEWS | Friday's games
RAYEN (7-2) vs. UNIONTOWN LAKE (5-4)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. at Lake High stadium
Notebook: With a loss, it'll be the final game in Rayen history. With a win, the Tigers have a chance to make their second playoff appearance in school history. (Rayen is 12th in the Div. II, Region 7 computer ratings, while Lake is 10th.) The Tigers will try to establish the run against the Blue Streaks, with quarterback Sal Battles (684 yards) and running back Gary Thornton (865) as the workhorses. Battles, who has 605 yards passing, will look for Tomaz Hilton (382 yards receiving) as his main target. The Blue Streaks will be vying for their 14th playoff appearance. The are led by running backs Josh McCutcheon and Gene Onabiyi and WR Michael Rutan.
COLUMBUS WATTERSON (7-2) vs. MOONEY (9-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. at YSU's Stambaugh Stadium
Last meeting: Watterson won 38-20 last year.
Notebook: Mooney lost this game in the final week last season in QB Derrell Johnson's first game back from injury. With the top seed already clinched in Div. IV, Region 17, the Cardinals may opt to play it safe and rest several top starters. QB Dan McCarthy is the main running threat for the Cardinals, while Michael Zordich, a standout on both sides of the ball, Jamelle Bowers and Brandon Beachum also see carries. Watterson has played a tough schedule and this could be the Cardinals' biggest test so far.
BOARDMAN (3-6, 1-5 Federal) vs. FITCH (3-6, 1-5 Federal)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. at Fitch High stadium
Radio: WNIO-AM 1390
Last meeting: Fitch won 27-14 last year.
Notebook: A win could cap a fairly successful year for the Spartans, who have already topped their win total for the past three years combined. Boardman snapped a five-game losing streak with last week's win over GlenOak, although the Spartans have been competitive in every game this year. Boardman will rely on running back Tyler Amendola, a big-play threat. Fitch, which has lost five straight, will rely on RB J.J. Pankewicz and its run-heavy offense.
POLAND (7-2, 6-0 MAC) vs. CANFIELD (7-2, 5-1 MAC)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Bob Dove Field
TV/Radio: WKBN-AM 570; FOX 17/62 (tape-delayed)
Last meeting: Canfield won 27-7 last year.
Notebook: Poland earned a share of the Metro Athletic Conference title with last week's 33-6 win over Campbell. The Bulldogs would all but wrap up a playoff spot (and the outright league title) with a win. They'll rely on running backs Greg Sabol and Carl Davanzo, along with QB Chris Lovell, who lead the league in passing and who Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky called "the best quarterback in our league." Canfield's main running threat is RB Sean Baker (398, who is banged up. QB Mark Carrocce (375 yards) is a threat to run or throw. WR/DB Mike Hoelzel has 394 yards receiving and seven interceptions. If Canfield and Niles win, the league title will be split three ways.
NILES (8-1, 5-1 MAC) vs. HOWLAND (5-4, 4-2 MAC)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Howland High stadium
Last meeting: Niles won 21-7 last year.
Notebook: Niles can earn a playoff berth and likely a home game with a win. RB Nate Ganyard (1,036 yards) and QB Walt Krezeczowski (769 yards passing) are the main threats on offense. Howland is led by RB Nathan Cope. The Tigers like to keep it on the ground -- they average just 27 yards passing a game -- and rely on their defense and running game to pull out the win.
MINERAL RIDGE (6-3, 4-2 ITCL Tier 1)vs. SPRINGFIELD (5-4, 3-3 ITCL Tier 1)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Springfield High stadium
Last meeting: Mineral Ridge won 58-21 last year.
Notebook: With a win, the Rams have a good chance of earning their third straight playoff berth. Running back A.J. Zitello (1,094 yards) is the workhorse, while QB Joe Miller (781 yards) will look for WR Nick Dominic (447 yards receiving), who is also a terrific kicker. Springfield relies on QB Nate Schuler (1,232 yards passing, 432 yards rushing) and WR Corey Cunningham (38 receptions, 712 yards).
JACKSON-MILTON (4-5, 3-3 ITCL Tier 2) vs. McDONALD (7-2, 5-1, ITCL Tier 2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. at McDonald High stadium
Last meeting: McDonald won 47-14 last year.
Notebook: McDonald can clinch its first playoff appearance since 2000 with a victory. Matt Firment (630 yards rushing), Matt Krumpak (1,602 yards passing), Joe Witkoski (344 yards receiving) and Scott Sentner (401 yards receiving) are the main offensive threats for McDonald. Jackson-Milton has won two straight, including a 15-11 upset of Leetonia, and nearly defeated Southern three weeks ago. The Blue Devils can clinch a share of the league title with a win. A win combined with a Western Reserve loss would give McDonald the league title outright.
W. RESERVE (7-2, 5-1 ITCL Tier 2) vs. WELLSVILLE (5-4, 3-3 ITCL Tier 2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. at Wellsville High stadium
Notebook: Reserve is on the verge of its first playoff berth since 1989 and second in school history. Running back Jason Lude (478 yards) is the main rushing option, while QB Brandon Moherman (1,382 yards passing, 458 yards rushing) is a threat to run or pass. His main targets are Chris Truitt (482 yards receiving) and Nate Lude (325). Wellsville has not defeated a winning team all season.
Vindicator staff report