Symmes Valley sees a lot of itself in playoff opponent

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

WILLOW WOOD - Which team is which?

When Symmes Valley coach Rusty Webb looks at the Centerburg Trojans, he sees a lot of his own team.

Webb will get to see just how similar the two teams are Saturday night in the first round of the Region 23 Division VI playoffs.

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"They're a lot like us. They don't run the wishbone, but they like to run the option and pick their spots to throw. And they have an aggressive defense," Webb said.

Much of the similarities lie on offense.

Tailback Bryant Potter has 1,485 yards rushing on 292 attempts for a 5.1 average. He has scored 11 touchdowns.

Quarterback Andy Ellis has completed 65 of 121 attempts for 750 yards and nine TDs. He's suffered 11 interceptions. He's also rushed for 276 yards on 56 carries.

"They spread you out and they're very athletic," Webb said. "The quarterback runs the midline pretty well. He handles the ball tremendously. They have a big blocking fullback and they'll ram him in there once in a while. Their tailback is very elusive."

Kevin Thompson leads the team with 27 receptions for 326 yards. Jack Buckalew has 15 grabs for 163 yards.

"They don't throw the ball much, but they have one of the best wide receivers we've seen all year. The offensive line comes off the ball well," Webb said.

The Vikings offense is based on a balanced attack. Cory Burcham has 109 carries for 1,052 yards, Matt Owens 460 yards on 65 tries, Derek Carpenter 450 yards on 68 rushes, and quarterback Craig Neal 430 yards on 50 attempts.

Neal has completed 21 of 50 passes for 320 yards and six touchdowns. Chris Elswick had 10 receptions for 170 yards and Derek Cremeans 230 yards on just eight catches.

The defense is led by linebackers Steve Moore and Nick McGovern. Moore has 164 tackles and McGovern 101 stops.

In the secondary, Jack Buckalew has seven interceptions and Kevin Thompson four.

"They're very aggressive with their front eight and flow to the ball real well," Webb said. "The secondary has a lot of athletic ability and cover the pass very well."

The Vikings have the upper hand with playoff experience. Symmes Valley has qualified for the playoffs four times including three times in the past five years, but Webb isn't stressing the playoff aspect of the game.

"Our kids are excited to be in the playoffs, but we're trying to keep it as normal as possible. This is just another week that we're trying to play. We're not going to build it up more than any game," Webb said.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. Fans can take I-71 north out of Columbus to U.S. 36 in Delaware, then travel east on 36 to where 36 and Route 3 merge, then take Route 3 to Centerburg.