Preview: La Salle vs. Walnut Ridge

The separation between teams still alive in the playoffs is so minuet that attention to detail becomes ever so modified. Such is the case for undefeated Walnut Ridge and La Salle. Focus, becomes a top priority for both teams. In a game that features some excellent athletes expect big plays to few and far between but when they happen, they will be jaw-dropping. This contest has all the ingredients to be one fans will be talking about for years to come.

Friday, November 15th, 2019
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Miami Valley South Stadium, Bellbrook High School
Follow on Twitter @TSFootball

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Walnut Ridge seniors Marshawn Mankins, Kaveon Ross and Antonio Tucker have combined for more than half of the team’s 32.0 sacks. The Scots’ offense takes plenty of advantage of short field situations because of the defense’s prowess. Quarterback Howard Thornton has thrown for 25 touchdowns. Javarus Leach and Antonio Felts have combined to find the end zone 21 times.

Greater Catholic League South Co-Offensive Player of the Year Cam Porter does a bit of everything for La Salle. The Northwestern commit has a team high 12 touchdowns to go along with 661 yards rushing. He is the lone remaining letterman from the Lancers’ state championship team back in 2016. In his first year as a starter quarterback Zach Branam has been rock solid. The junior has thrown for 1,268 yards, run for 934 yards and accounted for 27 touchdowns (17 pass, 10 rush). A quartet of highly recruited juniors – DeVonte Smith, Jaymar Hargrove-Mundy, Iesa Jarmon and Jaylen Johnson make up arguably the best secondary in Ohio. Hargrove-Mundy has a team high five interceptions.

TEAM TRENDS: Walnut Ridge is a defensive juggernaut. The Scots are allowing just 5.5 points per game. They have not given up more than 14 points in a game and seven points or less, nine times. All 11 of their victories have been by 11 points or more and seven by 34-plus. This is the third straight playoff appearance and eighth overall for Walnut Ridge. The Scots are 4-7 all-time in the postseason. They are looking to get to the regional finals for the second time in program history (2002).

La Salle has seven wins by 21 points or more. The Lancers have five wins over teams that made the playoffs (four versus Division I teams). La Salle is one win away from making its fifth regional finals appearance in the last six seasons. Last Friday night’s victory was the Lancers 18th playoff win since 2016, including three Division II titles. They had never won a postseason game before that.

WALNUT RIDGE’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Defense has been the face of this squad. The longer the Scots stay close the better their chances are to win. If the offense gets off to a good start it will allow the Walnut Ridge defense to dictate the tempo of this contest. The last thing La Salle wants to do is play from behind.

LA SALLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Squeezing out as many points as possible out of every possession will be crucial. Kicker Jake Seibert could play a major role in the outcome of this affair. The Lancers seem to really thrive when they get ahead early. Look for La Salle to stick a dagger in the Scots in the first quarter and deflate their hopes.

Prediction: La Salle 20, Walnut Ridge 14

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