By Steve Ruman
Area coaches dread the thought of having to face L.J. Scott once per season.
Howland coach Dominic Menendez has the unenviable task of having to deal with L.J. Scott twice in a three-week span.
Well, sort of.
Two weeks ago, the Tigers fell to Hubbard 22-14. In that game, Scott — viewed by most as the area’s premiere running back — played just one half. The Hubbard junior gained 53 yards and scored a touchdown, then sat out after halftime while recovering from an injury.
On Friday, Howland goes up against Marion Harding. The Presidents are led by senior running back L.J. Scott.
“I guess there is something about the name, because both of these kids are very special players,” Menendez said. “Unfortunately, we have to deal with [Marion Harding’s] Scott on Friday, and we have to deal with [Hubbard’s] Scott for another year.”
Marion Harding’s L.J. Scott has already verbally committed to Louisville. As a junior, Scott broke his school’s rushing record when he ran for 1,478 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry and 164.2 yards per game.
In Marion Harding’s 40-6 win over Toledo Scott this past weekend, Scott rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
Hubbard’s L.J. Scott rushed for 1,614 yards and 23 TDs a year ago. He has received offers from the likes of Kentucky, Michigan State, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“[Marion Harding’s] Scott is a little more shifty, and he’s very smooth with the ball in his hands,” Menendez said. “Hubbard’s Scott is bigger, he’s more of a downhill runner. The bottom line is that they are both extremely gifted athletes.”
“I’ll just be glad when the time comes that I don’t see the name L.J. Scott on any of our opponents’ rosters.”
HALFWAY TO PERFECTION
Six area teams have made it through the first half of the season unscathed.
Austintown Fitch, Poland, Hubbard, South Range, Western Reserve and Wellsville all own 5-0 records at the midway point of the regular season.
Struthers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Friday when it lost to Hubbard, 31-7.
The list of unbeaten area teams is guaranteed to shrink in the upcoming weeks. Poland and Hubbard meet on Oct. 18. Meanwhile, Wellsville and Western Reserve clash in the regular-season finale.
On paper, it would appear as though South Range has the easiest path to a 10-0 season. The Raiders’ final five games are against opponents which are a combined 10-15. On the flip side, Wellsville’s final five opponents are a combined 18-7. In addition to their game against Western Reserve, the Tigers must still face Lowellville (4-1), Mineral Ridge (4-1) and McDonald (3-2).
Statewide, 88 schools are 5-0.
The area has had at least one 10-0 team in each of the last 14 years.
The upcoming showdown between Poland and Hubbard will also have significant meaning in the American Division of the All American Conference. Both teams are 2-0 in league play, while Struthers, Howland, Niles and Canfield all have 0-1 conference records.
The AAC National Division also has a pair of teams (Liberty, Lakeview) sitting atop the league standings at 2-0. LaBrae is 2-1 in league play, while Jefferson (1-4, 0-3) has already suffered three conference setbacks.
Tier One of the Inter Tri-County League has co-leaders in South Range (5-0, 2-0) and Springfield (4-1, 2-0). Meanwhile, three teams (Western Reserve, Lowellville, Wellsville) are 2-0 in league play in Tier Two. The logjam will be reduced this week as Wellsville visits Lowellville.
Warren Harding (3-2, 2-0), Lorain and Cleveland Heights are all 2-0 in the Lake Erie League.
The North Coast League and the Northeastern Athletic Conference have yet to begin conference play.