Panthers, Pirates match similar styles in playoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

CHESAPEAKE - Listening to Chesapeake coach Phil Davis and Wheelersburg coach Tony Lewis, fans will definitely need a program for Friday's Division V Region 19 playoff game.

Davis and Lewis can't seem to tell the difference between their teams other than the color of their uniforms.

"They look like us. Their whole offense is like ours," Davis said. "They're not real big, but they're real quick. They use a quick, small nose guard and play a lot of games (stunts). They look a little quicker than other teams we've played."

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Like Davis, Lewis can see a lot of what his team does in the Panthers style.

"We are very similar," Lewis said. "They're very quick and defensively they blitz a lot of people. They're pretty aggressive. Their team speed is similar to ours."

The difference in the two teams will be their main weapon of attack. The Panthers lean on running back Cody Hunt while Wheelersburg relies heavily on quarterback Tom Kaskey.

"Wheelersburg reminds me sometimes of Vinton County in that they feature the quarterback," Davis said. "They began the season with the quarterback running the ball most of the time. (Nathan Timberlake) looks like he's stepped it up.

"Their linebackers and defensive ends are pretty good. Their defense runs to the ball."

Chesapeake will counter Kaskey with Hunt who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season. Lewis said the Pirates must be aware of Hunt at all times.

"Hunt is a real good runner. He's liable to break it at any time," Lewis said. "We'll have to contain him. We want to keep the ball from Hunt as much as possible. He cuts probably better than any back we've faced all year."

But Lewis said Hunt isn't the only problem. He said the Panthers have plenty of skilled players including fullback Keith Marcum and quarterback Justin Finley.

"Their fullback is really fast and their quarterback does a nice job with his fakes and running the ball," Lewis said.

"They run the ball 85 percent of the time, but they're a big-play offense. Any of their backs can break it at any time."

Davis expected a tough game much in the same fashion that has tormented the Panthers all season.

"This is going to be like our ball games all year. It's going to be close and we have a shot," Davis said. "We have to be able to play well on defense again. We have to find a way to stop them a little bit because they throw a lot of stuff at you."

Chesapeake has qualified for the playoffs six times including three straight years. Wheelersburg won the only previous meeting between the two teams 42-14 in 1996.

Davis is hoping the Panthers playoff experience will give them an edge.

"These guys have been there. They're really happy about the way the season turned out considering the adversity we've had. The expectations weren't as high for this group, so now they're looking forward to just getting a chance," Davis said.

Lewis thinks the deciding point will be in special teams.

"Special teams are going to be important. Field position is going to be

a key. We spend lot of time on special teams and we hope it will be a plus for us," Lewis said.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.