XENIA — A top-10 matchup in the state Division II rankings should bring a festive atmosphere Friday to Doug Adams Stadium Friday.
No. 6 Piqua visits No. 10 Xenia with early supremacy in the race for the MVL on the line. Both sides are 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the league.
Piqua won this battle a year ago, 35-6, in a game Xenia got jumped on early and struggled against a strong Piqua defense.
The strengths of both sides are similar to last year, but a more seasoned Bucs’ offense heightens what should be marquee matchup in the league this season.
“We’re going to have a heck of a game on our hands,” head coach Maurice Harden said. “We’re going to have to do a really good job this week [in practice]. Stay focused, making sure we continue to keep prepping the right way and continue to focus on the process and not necessarily the prize.”
Xenia has been a statistical juggernaut on both sides of the ball in its three wins, but most notably on offense.
Numerous big plays have led to Gavin McManus being the MVL’s leading passer despite only having the sixth most attempts and completions. Trei’Shaun Sanders ranks second in total rushing yardage, but he is first in touchdowns and average rushes, and along with Ramon Browder are the only two rushers in the league averaging more than 10 yards per carry. Tremell Wright is the league’s receiving yardage and touchdown leader.
On the other side from them, they will see a Piqua defense which has resembled a wall in the eyes of the opposition. When the group takes the field, it will do so not having allowed a single point this season, outscoring foes 172-0. Not only has the defense allowed nothing on the scoreboard, but it is responsible for putting up 24 points on its own.
The Indians’ are giving up only 118 total yards per game to lead the MVL, are second in tackles for loss, have forced six fumbles, created two interceptions, and scored four touchdowns.
Sam Schmiesing is one of two returning All-MVL players from last season, along with Dre’Sean Roberts. Schmiesing leads the team in tackles at 28 and the league in sacks with three. On offense he is also the leading rusher with 220 yards on 26 carries with four touchdowns, helping stand himself out as one of the top candidates for MVL player of the year.
Piqua doesn’t pass often, but six of the team’s 18 receptions have finished in the end zone, led by four from Ryan Brown. That may negate a strength of Xenia’s defense if the Indians stay the course on offense as the Bucs’ pass rush, led by Jamell Smith, is leading the league with 10 sacks. The Bucs’ defense as a whole also leads the league in tackles for loss with 40.5, showing it can get in the backfield frequently.
The game will be the first in several years where the Bucs get to host what is expected to be an impactful game for themselves and the opponent not only in the league standings, but the race for potential postseason seeding and opportunities to play at home in the early rounds.
Harden said he recognizes his team will need to bring everything it has against a tough opponent but is happy it gets to do so on its own home field.
”We’re definitely excited to have it here,” he said. “We love to have it in front of our community. We love playing home games and to be able to have a game like this here at home, it’s something that we’re looking forward to.”
Eaton at Bellbrook
Two league favorites begin SWBL play against one another with clashing philosophies. Eaton’s offense against Bellbrook’s defense should be a highlight of the weekly slate.
Brock Ebright and Brayden Deem team up for the Eagles as the top passing-receiving duo in the SWBL. Last season Ebright was near flawless in a one-point win for the Eagles.
Another strong performance may be needed to get through the Golden Eagles defense which is allowing 10 points per game and has been heavily relied upon while Bellbrook has been grinding out yards.
Beavercreek at Springboro
Beavercreek’s CJ Crawford is the leading tackler in the GWOC with 38 this season, nine more than any other player. He’ll have his eyes on one Springboro player as league play opens up.
Evan Ruzzo ranks fourth in passing yardage and second in rushing in the GWOC for the Panthers. He is responsible for eight of the team’s 10 touchdowns.
Springboro is coming off its first loss in which it couldn’t hold off powerhouse Cincinnati Elder after building a 20-7 lead in the second half at home. The Panthers come out of the gate hot as all but six of their 68 points this season have been scored in the first half of games. All three of the Panthers’ games have been decided by six points or less.
Greenville at Fairborn
Expect some points to be scored with two struggling defenses on the field.
Brock Short nearly led the MVL in rushing last year and is on his way to rectifying that this season for Greenville. Averaging 211 on the ground, he went for 263 yards against the Skyhawks last year.
Fairborn still boasts the league’s top passing attack, but JT Smith will need to be weary of Greenville’s Nolan Ellis, who has two interceptions to his name.
West Jefferson at Cedarville
The Roughriders have won two straight and are a handful to deal with.
West Jefferson’s Austin Buescher leads the OHC in most passing categories as a freshman, having the most attempts and completions while converting 72 percent of his throws, averaging 275 yards per game, and tossing nine touchdowns.
He cannot solely be focused on however, as Ethan Hostetler and Spencer George are combining to average 12.7 yards per rushing attempt. Those numbers assist an offense averaging 517 yards this season.
Greeneview at Fairbanks
Fairbanks lost a tight battle last week for its first loss of the season similarly to Greeneview’s recent experience. It’s been a team effort on the ground for the Panthers with seven different players having at least 10 carries this season, six of whom have found the endzone.
Nick Rhea and Coby Dellinger stand out for a defense which is averaging 11 points per game allowed.
Northwest at Carroll
Northwest’s defense has allowed 28 points a game so far, which keeps it vulnerable despite a balanced offense which can put up points of its own.
DeAveon Perkins is a big play threat for quarterback Deigo Yun. He also will carry the ball along with Kinxton Hill.
Week 4 Rankings
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.