Poland similar to tonight’s opponent

Ryan Williams saw highlights of the Chagrin Falls football team.

It looked familiar, and it should. The Poland coach is almost looking in a mirror when he views the Tigers.

Both teams are run-oriented. Poland has rushed for more than 1,700 yards, while Chagrin Falls has almost 1,500 yards.

Both teams have the quarterback under center, utilize two tight ends and go with a two- or three-back set. The two face off in tonight’s Division IV, Region 13 quarterfinal at Dave Pavlansky Stadium in Poland.

“It’s interesting,” Williams said. “Neither one of us faces too many teams that do that. It’ll be good to see how we handle that.”

Poland (6-1) has three rushers over 300 yards — Bryce Barringer (496, 5 TDs), Peyton Mrakovich (447, 9 TDs) and Jack Fulton (343, 5 TDs).

Chagrin Falls (5-2) is led by Donny Hardy with 501 yards and five TDs, while Cam O’Connor has 447 yards and four scores.

Tigers’ quarterback Dawson Pierce is 27-of-67 for 315 yards and two scores, while Fulton is 44-of-86 for 658 yards and four TDs for Poland.

“They’re a good offensive team,” Williams said. “They’re going to try to do the same thing. Anything we’re able to do, to hold the ball and play keep away and keep it out of their offensive hands. We’re going to try to do that.”

Tigers’ junior lineman Nick Dalessandro (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) anchors the Chagrin Falls’ line.

“They like to run to his side a lot,” Williams said.

No avoidable penalties early on, staying on schedule. That’s exactly what Poland wants to do, also avoiding third-and-longs.

Williams wants to keep a semblance of normalcy for his team in 2020, when there is very little outside of the football field and practices.

“Kind of keep the day-to-day the same,” Williams said. “You can’t control what the outside feels. While you’re there, every Monday feels like the same Monday and so on. That tries to create a little bit of that routine, things you can count on.”

Poland counted on itself during last Saturday’s 24-21 come-from-behind win against Salem. The Bulldogs rallied from a 21-0 deficit.

“I was so proud of their resilience,” Williams said. “There’s no flow to the season at all the way this year has been. We start off with a loss and rattle off a couple of wins and really haven’t been in that spot.

“We’ve maybe been down a touchdown in a couple of games. To test ourselves in that way really did a lot for our kids.”


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