WEEK 4 PREVIEW: Marlington Dukes at Louisville Leopards
Marlington Dukes (3-0) at Louisville Leopards (1-2)
WHEN: Thursday, September 15 at 7:00 PM
WHERE: Louisville Leopards Stadium
RADIO: 1480 WHBC
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
HIGHLIGHTS: Will be available following the game late Friday night or early Saturday morning right here on louisvilleleopards.org
ALL-TIME SERIES: Louisville holds a 39-4 record over Marlington
LAST MEETING: Marlington won 21-7 in Week 9 of the 2010 season at Marlington Stadium back on October 22.
LAST LOUISVLLE WIN: The Leps last won 28-14 in Week 9 of the 2009 season at Louisville Stadium on October 23, 2010.
Well its upon us, what we’ve waited to see ever since Marlington claimed the NBC with a 21-7 win over Louisville in Week 9 of last year. Not only will the county be watching this one, but a statewide audience will be viewing this rivalry unfold in a packed Louisville Leopards Stadium Thursday night. The hits will be harder, the battle fiercer, as these two teams will each give it all they have for 48 minutes (or longer) on the gridiron. Its the tradition of the Louisville Leopards verse the up and coming Marlington Dukes.
OFFENSE: The main issue with the Leopards offense is their ability to run the ball, eat up clock, and keep the ball out of Marlington’s hands. However, after the loss to starting runningback Lucas Poyser from a sprained ankle last week at Ravenna the Leopards only amassed 79 yards on 23 carries. With Poyser Louisville as a team has averaged 5.4 yards a carry, since his injury they have only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Most of the yards came from quarterback Chad Neff who has rushed for 239 yards on 55 carries this season. Outside of Neff & Poyser Louisville has only rushed for 42 yards on 19 carries. Poyser is doubtful for Thursday’s game, so the Leps will need to get a breakout night from runningbacks Aaron Reynolds & Trey Hayford if they are going to keep the Dukes guessing. Louisville’s primary yardage will still come from the passing game though. Neff has completed 50 of 83 passes this year for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. Trent Ohman, who actually ran in Louisville’s only touchdown at Ravenna, has been his primary target with 18 receptions for 181 yards. Another reliable target has been Gavin Lovejoy, who has 12 catches for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. Finally, Dillon Stertzbach had a breakout game Friday with 5 catches for 125 yards. Protection will be another key issue for the Leps as they allowed 5 sacks costing them 39 yards at Ravenna. The Leopards will also need to improve their 35% (14 of 40) third down conversion rate if they are going to move the ball Thursday night. Louisville is also 7 of 13 in converting fourth downs this season.
DEFENSE: The Leopards main issue when playing against Marlington is their ability to stop the run. The Dukes ran wild last year gaining 337 rushing yards on just 36 carries. With Poyser out at linebacker, the Leopards defense is going to be shaky against the run, just as it was last week against Ravenna. The triple option hasn’t stopped giving the Leopards fits since the 2008 Regional Final playoff loss to Columbus St. Francis DeSales. The Leps have recorded 4 sacks for 29 yards this season and will need to get plenty of defensive pressure in the backfield if they are going to stop the Dukes. If the Leopards want to have any hope of winning they better stuff the run like the last time they were on Fox Sports Ohio, when they held Mr. Ohio Erik Howard to 45 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Louisville retuning is averaging 19.9 yards on kickoffs and 11.3 yards on punts. Sharing the load on returns will be Trent Ohman and Dillon Stertzbach The Leopards have surrendered 12.4 yards per kick return and 5.3 yards per punt return to opponents this season. Chad Neff is averaging 29.5 yards per punt this season and Merrick Storlie has converted 6 of 10 PATs.
OFFENSE: Its no secret what these state semifinalists do on offense. A hand-off to Tennessee committed Alden Hill or a hand-off to Dymonte Thomas, who recently committed to Michigan and they’ll do the rest. Hill, a Senior, has 542 yards rushing on the year on 57 attempts and has scored 8 touchdowns. Thomas, a Junior, has rushed the ball 35 times for 216 yards and scored 3 touchdowns on the ground. Thomas had an 82-yard run and Hill had a 72-yard run against the Leopards last season. Senior Quarterback Jesse Carpenter can take off to as he led all rushers last week at Poland with 128 yards on 12 carries. With a potent running attack like the Dukes have, they are always a threat through the air as well. In the game against Poland Hill made his first two catches of the season that netted 80 yards and on both plays he scored. Carpenter is 15-of-29 passing for 211 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. Clayton Staib has recorded 5 catches for 54 yards and touchdown this year for the Dukes. Returning to anchor the line for Marlington is 6’5, 290 pound guard Zach Higgins, who will be playing for Michigan State on Saturdays following this season.
DEFENSE: The Marlington defense has force seven turnovers in three games so far this season. Linebacker Clayton Staib has made 29 tackles this season, recovered a fumbled, and returned an interception for a 42-yard touchdown in the opener verse Aquinas. Dymonte Thomas has also recorded 33 tackles for the Dukes this year.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior kick Mike McDermott has converted on 13-of-18 point after attempts, but has yet to be given the opportunity to kick a field goal. With backs like Hill and Thomas, I doubt he will be kicking any three-pointers Thursday night either. Sophomore Caleb Simmons is a threat in the return game as took the 2011 season opening kickoff back 83 yards for a touchdown.
Number of Shutouts: Louisville-16, Marlington-0
Leopards Highest Margin of Victory: 1997 they won 68-0
Marlington’s Highest Margin of Victory: 1988 they won 20-6, 2010 they won 21-7
Highest Combined Score: 84 Points – 1984 – Louisville 62, Marlington 22
Lowest Combined Score: 8 Points – 1974 – Louisville 8, Marlington 0 & 1979 – Louisville 8, Marlington 0
Longest Winning Streak: Louisville – 19 Games – 1968-1986
Total Points Scored: Louisville-1315 Marlington-395
Average Score: Louisville-31, Marlington-9