Aurora Greenmen at Louisville Leopards Regional Quarterfinal Preview
#6 Aurora Greenmen (9-1) at #3 Louisville Leopards (10-0)
WHEN: Friday, November 8 at 7:30 PM.
WHERE: Louisville Leopards Stadium
RADIO: WHBC 1480-AM
TV: Time Warner Cable Sport Channel (1311/311) on Friday, November 8 at 10 PM
HIGHLIGHTS: Will be available following the game late Friday night or early Saturday morning right here on louisvilleleopards.org
LAST LOUISVILLE APPEARANCE: The Leopards last made the playoffs in 2009 where they fell to Columbus Marion-Franklin 14-7 in the DII Regional Quarterfinals in the final game at the old Louisville Stadium.
LAST AURORA APPEARANCE: The Greenmen last made the playoffs in 2012 where they defeated New Philadelphia, Kent Roosevelt, & Chardon before falling in the DII State Semifinals to eventual State Champion Toledo Central Catholic 20-13.
|Aurora Schedule||Louisville Schedule|
|1||Twinsburg||W 20-13||Canfield||W 13-10|
|2||Ravenna||W 41-14||North Canton||W 14-13|
|3||at Revere||W 35-2||at Ravenna||W 36-22|
|4||Chagrin Falls||W 14-13||Salem||W 41-28|
|5||at Pepper Pike Orange||W 58-28||Carrollton||W 20-0|
|6||at West Geauga||L 28-35||at West Branch||W 48-0|
|7||Wickliffe||W 61-7||at Minerva||W 31-7|
|8||at Lake County Perry||W 28-3||Marlington||W 41-20|
|9||at Harvey||W 38-0||at Alliance||W 24-21|
|10||Kenston||W 63-28||at Canton South||W 42-21|
Well its playoff time again in Louisville! The Leopards will host the Aurora Greenmen for the first time ever in the DIII, Region 7 Quarterfinals Friday night at Louisville Leopards Stadium. The two teams have a combined 19-1 record and each won league titles. Louisville is returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and will be looking for their first playoff win since 2008. Aurora has qualified for the playoffs in nine consecutive seasons and is coming off back-to-back trips to the DII State Semifinals. The Greenman also won the DIII State Title back in 2008 and are no stranger to the playoff atmosphere. The game will come down to Aurora’s run offense that’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry against Louisville’s excellent run defense that has held opponents to 3.7 yards per carry this season. This matchup is a recipe for a classic game you will not want to miss come Friday in the first even Leopards playoff game at Louisville Leopards Stadium.
OFFENSE: The Leopards have averaged 324 yards (181 rushing, 142 passing) and 31 points per game this year. Quarterback Connor Zwick overcame an injury at Alliance to lead the Leopards on 5 touchdown scoring drives in the first half at Canton South. Zwick leads the team in both Passing (90 of 137, 1,309 yards, 14 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) & Rushing (168 carries, 763 yards, 8 touchdowns). Zwick has a variety of targets in the passing game that include Andy Minster (36 catches, 446 yards, 4 touchdowns), Alex Hollifield (18 catches, 310 yards, 5 touchdowns), Bryce Mathie (19 catches, 300 yards, 4 touchdowns), and Kyle Bast (16 catches, 298 yards, 2 touchdowns). He also has company in the backfield that includes runningbacks Walter Schrock (147 carries, 680 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Dakota James (54 carries, 198 yards, 5 touchdowns).
DEFENSE: The Louisville defense is giving up 220 yards (105 rushing, 116 passing) and 14.2 points per contest this season. Linebacker Zach Shea now leads the team in tackles with 48 (7 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) and has also recorded 3 takeaways (2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception return td). The rest of the Leopards linebacking core includes Josh Brown (44.5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 6 sacks) and Frankie Falcone (19.5 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 sacks). 21 of Louisville’s 36.5 sacks this season have come from their defensive line. Cole McElroy (20.5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery) anchors the line at 6′ 248 lbs. and has sprung defensive end Dylan Kline (45.5 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) and fellow lineman Cory Neff (36 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery) all year long. The Leopard secondary has been a turnover machine this year as it has tallied 11 of Louisville’s 18 takeaways this season. Their defensive backfield includes Garrett Yoder (47.5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 8 passes broke up), Stephen Kerzan (32 tackles, 1 interception, 3 passes broke up), Lewis Adkins (23.5 tackles, 4 sacks), AJ Minster (22 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 6 passes broke up), and Bryce Mathie (16 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception).
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Jordan Hughes has the known school record for field goals in a season after making 10 of 14 this year. He has also converted 36 of 39 extra point attempts giving him a total of 66 points this season. Connor Zwick has averaged 37.1 yards on 30 punts this season with a long of 58 and 8 of them landed inside the opponents 20. Andy Minster returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score last week against the Wildcats for the Leopards first and only touchdown on special teams this season. Minster has averaged 35.2 yards on 9 kick returns and 9.3 yards on 12 punt returns. Garrett Yoder has also averaged 24.2 yards on 6 kick returns and 8.5 yards on 17 punt returns. Kyle Woost has also taken 6 kickoffs back in averaging 13.8 yards per return.
OFFENSE: The Aurora Offense is averaging 386 yards (259 rushing, 127 passing) and 38.6 points per game this year. The Greenmen are led by Kent State Recruit and Quarterback George Bollas who leads the team in both passing (89 of 146, 1,204 yards, 13 touchdowns, 4 interceptions) and rushing (130 carries, 937 yards, 13 touchdowns). Bollas isn’t the only one scoring touchdowns on the ground though as 10 different Aurora players have found the endzone for 35 rushing touchdowns this year. Tailback Mitch Lackey (53 carries, 425 yards, 8.0 avg., 13 touchdowns), Fullback Romel Pollard (36 carries, 305 yards, 8.5 avg., 7 touchdowns), and Kirk Janoch (63 carries, 271 yards, 4.3 avg., 3 touchdowns) have shared the majority of the load in the backfield. The Greenmen are averaging 6.6 yards per rush this season. Bollas also has a variety of targets in the passing game that include Janoch (24 catches, 365 yards, 2 touchdowns), Joe Dinardo (19 catches, 254 yards, 4 touchdowns), Tight End Stephen Pigza (9 catches, 149 yards, 4 touchdowns), Tight End Luke Calcei (11 catches, 137 yards, 1 touchdown), and Anthony Quaranto (9 catches, 101 yards). Andrew Rinicella, Pollard, and Lackey have all caught one touchdown each in the passing game as well.
DEFENSE: The Greenmen defense is allowing 242 yards (109 rushing, 133 passing) and 14.3 points per contest. Aurora has also recorded 18 takeaways (9 interceptions, 9 fumble recoveries) this season. Outside Linebacker/Strong Safety Kirk Janoch (29 tackles) has a team leading 4 takeaways (2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries). Inside Linebacker Ryan Devine has also been a difference maker with 94 tackles, a team-leading 6 sacks, and 2 takeaways (1 interception, 1 fumble recovery). Also at Inside Linebacker, Michael Stratton has a team-high 98 tackles to go along with 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and 2 takeaways (1 interception, 1 fumble recovery). Also starting at Outside Linebacker is Alex Smierciak who has recorded 64 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions). The average weight of the Greenmen’s four starting linemen is 240. The line includes Defensive Ends Brandon Zamary (82 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss) and Romel Pollard (52 tackles, 1 sack, 7 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles). Anchoring the line are the defensive tackles Justin Wazbinski (53 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss) and Mitch Deininger (2 Tackles). The Aurora secondary includes Cornerback Mitch Evans (31 tackles, 1 interception), Cornerback Joe Dinardo (28 tackles, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery), and Free Safety Mitch Lackey (25 tackles, 1 fumble recovery).
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Joey Melchiori has made all 3 of his field goal attempts this season to go along with converting 38 of 42 extra point kicks. Andrew Seidel has also made 7 of 9 extra point attempts this season. He along with backup quarterback Alex Smierciak are listed as the Greenmen’s punters. Aurora is averaging 32.6 yards on 23 punts this season. Kirk Janoch has been the team’s top returner this season in averaging 21.3 yards on 8 kick returns and 103 yards on 11 punt returns. Janoch returned a punt for a score earlier this season. Joe Dinardo, who has the team’s only kick return touchdown, has averaged 27.5 yards on 11 kick returns this year.