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Aces need to use own offense to stop Chesy

AMANDA -- The strength of the Amanda-Clearcreek Aces football team all season has been its defense.

The Aces have allowed just 65 points, less than a touchdown a game. They feature the Central District Division V Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker Justin Olney and have recorded five shutouts.

But A-C head coach Ron Hinton is looking for help from the team's offense when they face the Chesapeake Panthers at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Division V Region 19 finals at Portsmouth's Spartan Stadium.

"Our defensive coordinator said our best defense is 'go offense.' Our offense is going to be a big part of our defense," Hinton said. "If they get the ball, we may not get it back. They may go 60 yards but they take eight or nine minutes off the clock and you don't have many opportunities.

"And they don't have a lot of penalties, missed assignments or they don't turn the ball over. What scares us about their offense is they are methodical. They trap off tackle, run inside, then come outside. There is no set scheme."

Amanda-Clearcreek (10-2) is led offensively by 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior quarterback David Conley. Running the option-style offense, Conely has accounted for more than 1,500 total yards. He had 667 yards rushing and has completed 67 of 116 passes for 866 yards.

"It starts with (Conley). He throws the ball, he's our leading rusher. He's our big play and main threat. No question offensively everything is centered around the quarterback," Hinton said.

The fullback is Olney (6-0, 220) and Jayson Marshall (5-7, 150) the tailback. Olney has 532 yards on 92 carries and five touchdowns while Marshall has 740 yards on 131 carries with five TDs and has caught 13 passes for 212 yards.

Split end Matt McClain (5-11, 160) has 18 receptions for 250 yards.

"This is one of the most balanced teams we've had," Hinton said. "We're usually a running team with a tight end. Now we're more of a split end team. The thing we've struggled with is our offensive line. We're starting three sophomores."

Up front the Aces start Joe Davis (5-10, 220) at center, Josh Holton (6-2, 200) and Shawn Hess (6-0, 215) at guard, Trent Strous (6-4, 265) and Jordon Lee (5-9, 300) the tackles, and Troy Busch (6-2, 235) the tight end.

"We didn't know what to expect this year. We only have 11 seniors and eight juniors," Hinton said. "We're two plays away from being 10-0 and two plays from being 6-4. We feel we've overachieved.

"We're playing better at this time of the year and that's what you hope for. We're showing some emotion and playing really hard. We only ask them to give their best, and if you do that in every endeavor in life you do your best then you have no regrets."

The Aces have overachieved due mainly to the defense. But facing the Panthers (9-3) and their two 1,000-yard rushers Michael and Cody Hunt has made Hinton nervous. This is not the same scenario from 1999 when A-C won 43-13 en route to a state championship.

"They're a lot bigger than the last time and they pose a lot of problems. We still have to defend the pass. I think (Panthers coach Phil Davis) is going to attack us on the outside and trap us on the inside. This game is going to be pit our best (defense) against their best (offense)," Hinton said.

"Their fullback (Junior Jamie) is pretty good like Fairfield Union, but they have two fast halfbacks (the Hunts) where Fairfield just had Peters. We've been good to bend but not break. Our defense is getting better. Our defense usually shuts (the other) team down and we get the ball on the short side of the 50 and our special teams keep people on the long side of the field."

Hinton said Chesapeake is better defensively than its given credit due to the offense.

"Defensively, they get to the ball real well and they have some good kids up front. Their safety comes up and smacks you and their corners are good. The key for us is to read our keys," Hinton said.

Olney, who had 104 tackles in the regular season, and Josh Ball (6-0, 160) are the linebackers spearhead the defense.