HUBER HEIGHTS — Division I, Region 3 No. 1 seed Wayne Warriors (9-0-1) takes on Lancaster Golden Gales (6-4) in a home opener to the 2016 playoffs this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Wayne is coming off a 17-6 win in a slugfest over Trotwood. Lancaster is coming off of a playoff seed clinching 42-27 victory over Wayne’s 2015 playoff opening opponent Reynoldsburg.
Wayne had some success against Trotwood last week, but was slowed on offense in the second half. Some of the problems in the second half on offense had to do with what Trotwood was doing on defense. Trotwood was taking everything away underneath and baiting Wayne to go vertical. The way the Warriors’ defense was performing, along with having a lead didn’t necessitate having to throw low percentage passes.
Lancaster was in what amounted to a playoff game last week against Reynoldsburg. The Gales had to win or go home. The game was on the line with about 6 minutes left and the Gales with a fourth and 1 from the Reynoldsburg 23 yard line. Not only did the Gales get the first down, but they scored on a 23 yard run. From that point on the Gales piled on two more scores in less than 5 minutes.
Lancaster’s only losses this year have been to current playoff teams. The Gales’ four losses were to opponents with a collective loss total on the year of 4. Lancaster has been held to seven points this year four times; all four games were losses.
The Gales feature a power running game behind a rather big offensive line. They will want to establish the run early and hope for Wayne to make mistakes because the Gales passing attack is not very potent. As a matter of fact, the lack of a strong passing game limits the Gales’ ability to mount comebacks.
Wayne will have the home crowd behind it and won’t have any problem getting up for this game. The Warriors have size on both sides of the line, so they should be able to handle Lancaster. The Gales’ line (at least most of it) plays both ways. Playing Wayne’s offensive and defensive line all day with the same players on both side of the ball may be a little too much to ask.
The Gales are a scrappy team and what they lack in talent they make up for in grit and determination. It should be a fight early but in the end the size of Wayne upfront may be a little too much. The element of surprise from wrinkles put in the game plan by the Gales may be able to keep the Wayne front seven at bay for a while, but Wayne should be able to advance if it doesn’t beat itself.
Reach Robert Williamson II via email at RobertWilliamsonII@gmail.com