• 59°

Vikings, Green Wave contrast in styles

NEWARK -- It's the wishbone vs. the spread.

The contrast of offensive styles will be sharp when the Symmes Valley Vikings face the Newark Catholic Green Wave at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the Division VI Region 23 playoffs.

The Vikings (8-2) are a ground-oriented attack that utilizes four backs in the wishbone set. Newark Catholic (6-4) relies on a wide-open offense keyed by quarterback Doug Stevens and fullback Troy Nichols.

"They spread the field and make you cover the field," Webb said. "We have to contain them. They can run or throw equally as well. We can't load up the line of scrimmage."

"The fullback has tremendous speed. If he gets in the open field, he can run off and leave you, and if the other kids get loose they can take it the distance. The key for us is to play a disciplined game."

Green Wave head coach Bill Franks said the Vikings balanced wishbone offense is something his team hasn't seen all season.

"We're concerned when they have three running backs in tight who can handle the ball at any time," Franks said. "The quarterback has nice size and athleticism. We've been impressed with them. Everybody in the playoffs had a great year, so our kids understand they have to play their best."

Joseph Patterson leads the Vikings with 774 yards on 122 carries (6.3 yards per carry) and he's scored 11 touchdowns running and receiving. Patterson has eight receptions for 248 yards and two scores.

Halfback Michael Roth has gained 491 yards on 69 tries (7.1) with five touchdowns and fullback Nathan Pinkerman had 468 yards on 77 carries with four TDs. Quarterback Drew Hunt had 53 attempts for 263 yards and three scores and has completed 37 of 85 passes

for 879 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has thrown only two interceptions.

Franks said the Vikings 4-4 defense poses a problem.

"I always like to find a nice balance between the run and pass," Franks said. "Symmes Valley is impressive. They're well-coached, disciplined, and hard-nosed. They're just like a (Bishop) Ready team. We have to minimize our turnovers and execute in the kicking game."

Webb said Newark Catholic is a combination between two of its toughest opponents, Chesapeake and Lucasville Valley. The Vikings lost 38-12 early to Chesapeake and upset Lucasville Valley 15-14 later in the season.

"They're very, very quick, very athletic, and very well-disciplined. They're not a big team. Everything they do is based on speed. They have the speed of Chesapeake and the size is about the same as Lucasville Valley," Webb said. "We had a lot of problem with Chesapeake early, but we're a different team now. We can handle that speed and we have the confidence."

The Green Wave lost 28-21 in overtime to Ready earlier in the season. Newark Catholic won its final three games with impressive wins over Steubenville Catholic (24-21), Col. Bishop Hartley (28-18), and Dayton Colonel White (56-20). Steubenville Catholic qualified for the Division V state playoffs.

Newark Catholic is making its 25th postseason playoff appearance, the most by any program in the state.

"Each and every year we have high expectations. If we have high expectations, the kids will likely rise to the occasion," Franks said. "We had some tight ball games early, but we told the kids it's not how you start but how you finish. We've been playing quality teams all season."

Symmes Valley is making its third playoff appearance and second straight against Newark Catholic. The Green Wave won 42-14 in 1999. Webb said the Vikings could have folded early when they were 1-2, but rebounded to win seven straight and claim their first-ever Southern Ohio Conference championship.

"We have good senior leadership and the kids are excited about the ball game," Webb said. "We've gotten better each week. We took some lumps early, but we hung in there and kept working hard. It's been a team effort. All the kids help each other."

Franks felt similar about his team.

"We had only one starter back on offense and three on defense. We jelled nicely as the season went on. But we're always inexperienced. The seniors traditionally play. Each group waits for their turn," Franks said.