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Football Lookahead: Linsly Faces a Scuffling, But Formidable, Western Reserve Club

October 10, 2013
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

It has been home sweet home for the Linsly football team the past two weeks as Coach B.J. Depew's Cadets were able to shake off the sting of a pair of consecutive losses to get back on the winning track and improve their record to 4-2.

But it is back on the bus and back on the road for a trip to Hudson, Ohio this week as Linsly takes on a Western Reserve Academy (2-3) team that has a two-game losing skid of its own and has struggled recently on both sides of the football.

While the Cadets took the Columbus Crusaders' best punch before escaping with a 26-20 victory last Saturday at Lockhart Alumni Field, the Pioneers took the weekend off after being outscored by a 70-20 margin in their previous two outings. WRA actually had been averaging 33 points a game through its first three.

"I felt like we really had things going our way at the half last week," Depew said. "But I also told the kids that if any team was going to stay at it and fight us for four quarters it was going to be the Crusaders. We had some mishandles at times, and didn't execute at clutch times all the time, but on the other hand we did play very well at times.

"I was really pleased with our resiliency overall, and especially with how the situation with the fake punt worked late in the game. Zak Kreichbaum really came through with that one, but he was actually outstanding in all phases Saturday. He deserves an awful lot of credit for some things, especially that punt that allowed us to run the clock down late."

Coach Jeffry Hildebrand's Pioneers are led by quarterback Justin Cook and receiver Colt Roe, but are coming off a game in which they turned the ball over five times as well as giving up a kick return for a score.

"Western Reserve is a longtime opponent of ours, but we really don't know much about them this year because they are playing a lot of different teams," Depew said. "Add to that the fact that their schemes are a little different from anyone we have played.

"They go as far as putting offensive linemen all the way out to the hash making them eligible receivers while the quarterback and center are the only two players in the middle of the field. They just like to hang their hats on confusing the defense, and they do a pretty good job of it.

"You are honestly at times not sure who has the ball, who is getting the ball or who is even eligible to get the football. They make you defend everywhere and everything. And you have to think carefully about how you are going to set your defense, but at the same time you don't want to overthink anything.

"In theory, any of their 11 offensive players can be eligible at any time. You also have to be careful not to overwhelm the kids with all of this. The key is to disengage from blocks as soon as possible, make good tackles and stay focused.

"When they are not trying all the trickery, they normally just line up in four and five wide receiver sets and come at you that way.

"They do have good size and they really like to load the box to stop the run and play 1-on-1 coverage on your receivers. So we will need to have to be ready to pound a lot of bodies at them."

Turning the football over was something the Cadets had a little problem with as well last week, losing a trio of fumbles.

However, the offense, led by bruising running back Chimechi Oparanozie, who finished with 185 yards and three scores on 26 carries, got the job done.

With Oparanozie running wild, quarterback Jameson Murray did need to pass often, but was still 8 of 13 for 82 yards, including four catches for 51 yards by Zak Kreichbaum.

Linsly's defense allowed just 46 yards on the ground, but did give up 192 through the air and 238 overall in last week's tilt.

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