Walton-Verona Earns First Semi-Finals Appearance
Sometimes you just come to defining moment in your journey. Some people call it "watershed", some call it "turning point", but at the end of the day it is an opportunity to change your trajectory for the better.
Walton-Verona may have found that moment Friday in their 18-14 win over visiting Glasgow. This was Walton-Verona's second Regional Finals in the program's relatively young history, but it was arguably their first real chance to make a statement and truly push their program forward to the next level. The win not only secures their first ever Semi-Finals appearance, it more importantly ensures that game is at home. The short range benefits are the positive buzz around the community and in the media. The long term benefit is Friday's game against Mayfield will no doubt create a moment that creates positive momentum and legitimizes the vision the coaching staff and administration have set forth.
Walton-Verona had to earn this opportunity. The heavily favored Scotties led 14-6 with the 4th Quarter winding down, the lone Bearcat score coming on a fumble recovery returned to the house. The Bearcats entered the game averaging 48.6 yard per game throwing the football, they got every bit of that on a TD pass by Garrett Jones and with it the lead was cut to 14-12 with 4:29 remaining.
The Bearcat Defense stepped up forcing a three-and-out. The Glasgow punt left a lot to be desired and rolled dead at the 39-yard line of the Scotties setting Walton-Verona up with the golden opportunity they were waiting for. Once again it was Jones and the passing game that came through with the season in jeopardy. Jones would connect on the very first play of the drive to push the margin to 18-14 with only about 2:30 left to play.
Walton-Verona needed a stop and when Glasgow returned the kick to their own 45-yard line it certainly seemed to be a tall task. After Glasgow converted a First Down, the Scotties stumbled over their own feet getting behind the chains following a pair of key penalties. Facing a 4th and 25 Tanner Abernathy's desperation pass down the field fell incomplete and with it so too did Glasgow's goals and dreams.
Cardinal Rule: Don't Let Mayfield Find Offensive Balance
Murray turned Class 2A on it's ears when they came back from a 26-0 deficit to stun Owensboro Catholic en route to the Regional Finals. The Tigers found themselves in a similar situation at Mayfield, but unlike the previous week there was no relenting in the Offensive onslaught of the Cardinals as they rolled to a 57-13 victory.
The Cardinals poured on 200 yards in the ground game, spearheaded by Connor Guthrie's 3 TD's, and Jaden Stinson was as efficient as ever completing 15 of 21 passes as the Cardinals scored early and often against a Murray Defense unable to keep up. Murray sealed their fate with four turnovers including a Pick-6 by Kylan Galbrath.
With the win, Mayfield has now won 42 consecutive playoff games at War Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals will not have the luxury of stretching that to 43 in the Semi-Finals. Instead, Mayfield will have to call up their local travel agent as they sojourn to Walton-Verona, a trip of over 300 miles.
KEYS TO VICTORY, MAYFIELD AT WALTON-VERONA Mayfield
- Win Early. Walton-Verona is swimming in new waters and emotions will be high. Mayfield needs to shake the dust off their long trip and get a couple early scores to send a message and force a W-V Offense that has struggled at times to play from behind.
- Sideline to Sideline and Down the Hashes. Mayfield will have a significant advantage in both speed and depth so they need to make Walton-Verona run the length of the field in each direction. Not only will this have an effect in fatigue, more importantly it will free the interior running game against a stout W-V front.
- Win Special Teams. For all the things W-V does well, the kicking game is not one of them. Mayfield needs to capitalize on this to win the field position game to shorten their field and subsequently extend how far W-V has to go.
- Play with "House Money" at your own house. Noone expected them to be here and noone expects them to win. There is no pressure on Walton-Verona and they should use that to their advantage. Come out loose and throw caution to the wind. What's the worst that can happen, Mayfield beats you like everyone expects? You are at home and you are the underdog, go have fun.
- A Moving Clock is a Good Clock. The Bearcats can not go score for score with Mayfield, but as we saw Friday, if the game is within reach they have a chance to find the big plays when they need them. Long drives with multiple first downs and limiting the sudden change points are imperative.
- Yardage Never Wins Games. Mayfield is very good and between excellent individual talent and elite coaching, the Cardinals will move the ball. Accept that, but just make sure you are in position to make the plays that matter to keep the scoreboard from lighting up. Find a couple turnovers, force a couple key penalties, and make a couple big tackles. If Mayfield moves the ball 70-yards in 11 plays but has no point to show for it that is a win on every level.
LCA Gets the Jump on Somerset, Briar Jumpers Bounce Back to Advance
Every year there seems to always be that one playoff game where the script is flipped completely. Team A wins in a blowout in the regular season, Team B then suddenly looks like a whole different animal in the playoffs and win easily.
For a while, Somerset had to be feeling they were about to be that unlucky victim. Somerset had easily defeated Lexington Christian 35-0 on October 12th, despite that fact before Somerset could even settle onto their sideline they were facing a 17-0 deficit to the Eagles. A key play then happened after Somerset scored on a 19-yard pass from Kaiya Sheron to Kade Grundy. A routine XP was concluded was a vicious late hit on the kicker that seemed to energize the Somerset sideline. The ensuing possession Chance Stayton would step in front of a pass and return it deep into Eagle territory. Jase Bruner would eventually capitalize on 4th Down to bring Somerset within three points at the Half.
Somerset would take the lead after recovering a muff on the opening kickoff of the 2nd Half and turning it into the second Sheron to Grundy scoring connection of the night. To LCA's credit, with the momentum rapidly swinging the Eagles would continue to battle. Xavier Brown would answer on the next drive with a scoring run pushing LCA back in front 24-21. The Eagles hit paydirt once more in the 3rd Quarter on a long pass and suddenly seemed to be back in the driver's seat up 31-21.
The 4th Quarter would belong to Somerset. Bruner would score for the second time on the ground for a 24-yard sprint to cap off an impressive drive. The Jumper D would get off the field quickly and Sheron would take over. First he would link up with Grundy again for another long gain. He would also add a long gain on a scramble to extend the drive before eventually capping it off with a QB sneak at the goal-line, the lead would be regained 35-31 with around 8:00 to go.
The drama was not over yet. After each team traded possessions LCA put together one last drive that eventually set them up 1st and Goal at the 2 with :20 to go. Somerset has leaned on their Defense all season, and even though the Eagles had scored only two points less than 8 of their combined regular season opponents, it was the Jumper Defense that would win the game. Somerset would deny the Eagles at the goal-line and win the game 35-31.
Holy CAL! Centurions Put Colts Out to Pasture
Trends are only trends until they cease to exist. For six straight years these two teams have faced each other once in the Regular Season and once more in the Regional Finals and six times the team who had lost the first game would rebound for the playoff win. Christian Academy Louisville decided that 2018 would be the end of that streak.
Milton Wright is one of the favorites to win Mr. Football, and for voters who were still unsure he decided to make this high profile game his personal resume to hand to them. Wright was nothing short of superb, touching the ball 13 times on Offense (5 rushes, 8 reception) he would cash in 309 total yards and 4 TD's as DeSales could never find an answer for the Senior. DeSales actually did an admirable job against the rest of the CAL stars, holding Brandt Babin to under 3 yards per carry and forcing a pair of Anthony Sabatino interceptions, but their inability to contain Wright was a fatal flaw.
As good as Milton Wright was on Offense, the overall CAL Defense was equally as impressive. DeSales actually drew first blood on an Aaron Pfaadt rush in the 2nd Quarter to break a scoreless stalemate. From that point on the yards and the points where nowhere to be found. CAL would hold DeSales to right around 150 total yards including a Justin Howes interception that completely thwarted any DeSales momentum entering the break.
CAL will now make the trek to Lake Country to visit the Briarpatch against Somerset.
KEYS TO VICTORY, CAL AT SOMERSET CAL
- Don't Forget Who You Are. CAL's star of the game may change from game to game, but at the end of the day what makes CAL such a dominant program year in and year out stays the same. Play excellent Defense. Maintain Balance. Win the Turnover Battle.
- Find 28. Somerset is a strong Defensive team and a respectable Offense. With that said, in a game featuring two of Class 2A's best Defenses it will be difficult for the other team to win if 28 points are posted.CAL has not allowed more than 21 points all season against more proficient Offenses that what Somerset will bring. If they score 28, they will almost certainly win.
- Negative Plays = Positive Victories. Somerset has found a nice rhythm in recent weeks but the Jumpers continue to struggle with penalties and an inability to consistently manufacture a running game. If CAL can get some tackles for loss and keep the Jumpers in 3rd and Long it will be a good night for CAL.
- Non-Offensive Points= Gold. It will be hard to score consistently on a Defense that noone has scored consistently on, so finding bonus points on Defense or Special Teams are a must. Somerset has been perhaps the best team in Class 2A at turning over other teams and either scoring on Defense or at the very least setting their Offense up deep in enemy territory. Having Defense or Special teams directly lead to 14 points would really help their chances.
- Turn Kaiya Loose. Kaiya Sheron has turned into a nice dual threat option and was vital in their come from behind win against LCA. He is their most dynamic weapon and his ability to scramble will be huge against a stout CAL secondary. Some of the greatest upsets begin with an extraordinary effort by an individual player.
- Who Else You Have? If Somerset lets Milton Wright beat them he will. End of story. Don't let Milton Wright beat you. It may open other options for a solid Offense, but there is no other Mr. Football candidate with All-American written by their name taking the field at the skill spots. Force CAL's other talented underclassmen step up.
Last edited by Jumper_Dad; Nov 19, 18 at 11:36 AM.