LHS to face Waynesville’s black and orange on Friday
Israel Potoczny firstname.lastname@example.org
Oct 30, 2008
Lebanon will play its the biggest game the football program has been a part of since 2000 on Halloween — against a team whose colors are black and orange.
The Waynesville Tigers, the defending 2007 Missouri Class 5 state champions enter Friday’s game needing a win to have a chance at making the playoffs, while LHS needs a win to clinch a playoff berth.
A Lebanon loss would put the focus on Camdenton, who would need to erase a 14-point deficit in the district standings to wrestle a district title away from LHS.
Lebanon head coach Will Christian said he has preached that Friday’s game is a must-win.
“I think (the need to win on Friday) definitely eliminates any relaxation or letdown,” Christian said. “I think they’re (the team) is locked in and they know they have to do what they have done the last two weeks.
Lebanon has made just three football playoff appearances in school history, the last coming in 2000. The Yellowjackets followed a 10-0 season in 1991 with a playoff appearance and won its only playoff game in 1993.
Christian said a win on Friday is big for the program, not only because it eliminates the potential tiebreaker scenarios, but because it makes the team a district champion and ensures extra rest and preparation for its playoff opponent.
“A district championship in the program is gigantic,” Christian said.
As district champions, Lebanon would next play on Monday, Nov. 10. The runner-up will play on Wednesday, No. 5.
“I think (playing on Nov. 10) is a big advantage,” Christian said. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out ... our opponent (on Nov. 10) will have to play on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see how them getting four days of preparation to our getting nine to see the difference.
“I’m hoping we’ll be able to see how that pans out.”
Christian said several members of the junior high coaching staff will be serving as scouts on Friday, watching potential playoff opponents.
About Waynesville. ...
Perhaps the biggest difference between the 2007 version of the Waynesville Tigers and the 2008 version is its defense.
Led by Northern Iowa recruit L.J. Fort, the 2007 version Waynesville is 5-4 this season, and its defense is a far cry from the 2007 defense that allowed just 10 points per game en route to the school’s first state title. They did not allow 20 points in any game, while the 2008 version is allowing an average of 21.
Despite those numbers, Christian said the defense is still the Tigers strength, in part because of the play-making ability of senior B.J. Ray, the Class 5 Defensive Player of the Year last year as a junior.
Ray nearly single-handedly helped the Tigers defeat Rolla last week, intercepting two passes in the fourth quarter. Trailing 24-21, Ray intercepted Rolla quarterback Ross Parker with 2:49 remaining, setting up the Tigers winning score. Then, after Rolla moved the ball into Waynesville territory, Ray ended the game with an interception with 40 seconds remaining.
“You have to account for where he (Ray) is at on every snap,” Christian said. “On our pre-snap reads, Ryan (Howerton) will have to do a very job of knowing where he is and when he is a safety ... do some things to look him off.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior is likewise all over the field on offense. He caught all six completions from junior quarterback Kevin Vereen on Friday. Although he is most often used at receiver, Christian said the Tigers will also use Ray at quarterback.
Offensively, the Tigers are a 60-40 run-to-pass team that features two standout running backs, Omar Craddock and Delvon Franklin.
Craddock rushed for 193 yards and four touchdowns against Rolla on Friday.
“When they have to throw, they’re not as good, but when they are able to be balanced they’re pretty good,” Christian said. “Vereen is very fast, very elusive and is dangerous with his legs.
“(Craddock) is pretty explosive, if you give him a seam, he can go, Franklin is more of a downhill runner, and Ray is the X-factor.”
Challenge for LHS receivers
The ‘Jackets receivers have had a big season as four players have caught at least 30 passes this year.
Archer leads Lebanon with 72 catches for 810 yards and 12 touchdowns, Tyler Bethel is averaging nearly 20 yards per catch (31-606) and Trey Overstreet (38-540) and Josh Mattes (41-393) have combined to score six touchdowns.
“Our receivers are doing a good job of running quality routes,” Christian said.
Waynesville struggled against Joplin defending the pass, but the Tiger defense has also had its share of standout performances.
Joplin scored 56 points in a Week 6 win over Waynesville led by senior receiver Dane Kolkmeyer who had nine catches for 171 yards against the Tigers. But Hillcrest, known for its talented receivers, completed just 4-for-18 passes in a 50-13 loss to Waynesville.
Worried about comebacks
If there is a carry over effect from the 2007 undefeated state champion Waynesville team, it might be a never-say-die attitude the team plays with.
Waynesville has posted big comebacks this season, including Friday’s win over Rolla in which they trailed 24-14 entering the fourth quarter.
The Tigers trailed Glendale 23-12 at the end of the third, then scored 27 answered points in the fourth, and posted a comeback against Joplin after trailing 27-7 at the half, and rallied in a loss to West Plains after trailing 28-12.
“I know they are 5-4, but they are dangerous,” Christian said. “They are very athletic, and they are lightning in a bottle.
“They’ll come back on you. (We) have to keep the pedal on the metal all night because they won’t shut it down by any stretch.”