LONDON — The Wayne Warriors travel to Bowlus Field in London Ohio to take on The Dublin Coffman Shamrocks the Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Warriors are coming off of a 52-7 rout of the visiting Lancaster Golden Gales and The Shamrocks finished off rival Hilliard Davidson 24-3 in a rematch from the regular season.
Wayne was hitting on all cylinders last week in all phases of the game. The offense took what it was given by the Gale defense, which played a well-disciplined game focused on stopping Fred Pitts and Josh Foster. The only problems is that Wayne is no one trick pony. Rashad McKee continues to impress considering he is a relatively young quarterback but has been both disciplined and resilient.
The Wayne defense dominated the Lancaster offensive line and dared the Gales to put the ball in the air. The Gales only attempted four passes in the game because they just didn’t have the athletes to pass the ball. Gale quarterback Noah Dryden completed 2 of his 4 passes, one to his receiver Kito Atkins for 8 yards and one to Wayne defensive back Trew Davis.
The Shamrocks avenged a 7-6 regular season loss to Hilliard Davidson by coming out and dominating the Wildcats in all phases of the game. Coffman is a very good team and what it did to Hilliard Davidson should not be overlooked. The Shamrocks, unlike Lancaster are no one trick pony. They can score on the ground as well as through the air.
The obvious matchup to look at on offense is the Wayne offensive line against the Coffman front seven. The Shamrocks could load the box last week against Davidson, but doing so this week could leave them with some matchups on wide receivers that may not go well for them.
Last week Lancaster did a good job of using up blocks and allowing its linebackers to make plays against the Wayne running backs, but it didn’t account for the legs of McKee. That’s another concern added to the mind of defensive coordinators preparing for Wayne in the playoffs going forward.
On defense Wayne would like to have another one of those dominating performances from its defensive line that it has been having for most of the year. The Shamrocks are not one dimensional. They have won games this year riding their running game and their passing game. The Shamrocks have a decent running back in Casey Kirk, but they have a legitimate threat in 6-foot, 4-inch senior wide receiver Caleb Stoneburner. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the Boston College commit is the younger brother of former Ohio State and NFL tight end Jake Stoneburner.
This is the type of game that DeWayne Morris could come up big. When the running game is not clicking for the Shamrocks, they sometimes use a sort of West Coast offense (short passes in place of runs) to facilitate their drives.
The Wayne special teams has been solid down the stretch and probably overlooked by many. Garrett Russell has only missed one extra point and that was early in the season, but he has been perfect on field goals. The kick coverage has not given up a lot of good field position to opponents and the return team is starting to gel.
Wayne has some familiarity with Dublin Coffman. This will be the third time these teams have met in the playoffs in four years. Wayne has won the previous two by scores of 31-10 at Kettering in 2013 and 44-35 at Bellefountaine in 2014.
Speaking of familiarity, Matt Wilcox, a freshman at the time scored a touchdown in the 2013 playoff game and carried the ball six times for Wayne in the 2014 game. In the 2014 meeting, Coffman wide receiver Caleb Stoneburner was only the Coffman punter.
Wayne will definitely not want to be looking down the road at a possible Colerain showdown in the state semifinals. I don’t think the Shamrocks can score enough points to beat Wayne, but Coffman is not a team you want to look past. Coffman was first in the region for a while this year and has a few blowouts and shutouts this year just as Wayne does. Warrior mistakes from not being focused can even the playing field or even tip it in the Shamrocks favor.
Coffman will be led by interim coach and defensive coordinator Curtis Crager. Crager is standing in for head coach Mark Crabtree, who drew a two-game playoff suspension by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for illegal recruitment of an eighth-grader last summer.
Reach Robert Williamson II via email at: RobertWilliamsonII@gmail.com