Vikings must stop balanced Shaydside

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

WILLOW WOOD - The Symmes Valley Vikings don't know what to expect.

Vikings coach Rusty Webb said the balanced offense of the Shadyside Tigers will provide quite a test for the the Vikings as they hit the road to open the Division VI playoffs Saturday with a long trip to play Shadyside (8-2).

&#8220They have some skilled and some decent linemen,” Webb said. &#8220They're very athletic, like the athleticism Chesapeake had. They keep you off-balance because they can run it and pass it.”

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Billy Merryman (5-10, 135) is the quarterback. He has completed 60 of 130 passes this season for 1,084 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been intercepted nine times.

His favorite target is Evan Cline with 18 receptions for 415 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Before the season, starting running backs Curtis Henthorn (6-0, 175) and quarterback Taylor Jovicic (5-11, 195) were lost for the season due to injuries. Jovicic is hoping to be able to play this week.

Taking over in the backfield is Lyle Burkhart (5-11, 165), a converted wide receiver, who has rushed for more than 500 yards this season and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry.

Dustin Sadlowski (5-10, 175) has 200 yards at the fullback.

&#8220Their quarterback is a good athlete and Burkhart runs pretty well,” Webb said. &#8220Cline is a nice receiver and he's just a good athlete. The offensive line is big, strong and athletic.”

While the Tigers offense is a Pro-I, the defense runs a 4-3. Symmes Valley (7-3) utilizes a 4-4 on defense and wishbone style offense.

Although K.J. Furbee (5-8, 150) isn't real big, he has been very active as the Tigers middle linebacker.

Vinnie Ritchie (5-10, 240) and Chase Grinch (5-11, 250) have been solid against the run as the defensive tackles.

&#8220They go to the ball well,” Webb said. &#8220They are very disciplined, so they definitely pose a challenge for us.”

The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the Region 23 semifinals to play the winner of the South Gallia and Hannibal River.

Shadyside beat Symmes Valley at Zanesville in 1989 in the only previous meeting between the two teams.