WEEK 6 PREVIEW: Louisville Leopards at Alliance Aviators
Louisville Leopards (2-3, 1-1) at Alliance Aviators (4-1, 2-0)
WHEN: Friday, September 30 at 7:00 PM
RADIO: WRMU-FM 91.1
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 9-4-1 all-time record over Alliance.
LAST MEETING AT ALLIANCE: Louisville defeated Alliance 26-7 in Week 8 of the 2009 season back on October 16, 2009.
LAST ALLIANCE WIN: The Aviators last defeated the Leopards in Week 4 of the 2006 season back on September 15, 2006.
Schedule So Far:
Louisville — Alliance
Walsh Jesuit L 26- 27 — @Central Catholic L 12-17
North Canton Hoover W 50-7 — Fairless W 44-14
@Ravenna L 6-31 — St. Thomas Aquinas W 32-23
Marlington W 35-28 — West Branch W 55-26
Minerva L 26-29 — @Canton South W 49-21
Can you believe it? We are already halfway through the high school football season! Nothing seems to have changed either, with every week seeming to be as important as the last. The Leopards will look to get back on track Friday in a key Division II, Region 5 showdown with the Alliance Aviators. This is do or die time for the Leopards who at 2-3 have been put on playoff life support ranking 14th in the Region. A win over the 4-1, 11th place Aviators would be huge for four reasons:
- They are a DII team so Louisville will get slightly more points than from the rest of the league that is in DIII.
- Alliance has won 4 games already, which means more points.
- Alliance is fighting for a playoff birth in the same region and a win could end up knocking the Aviators out and putting the Leopards in when the dust clears after Week 10.
- The Leopards can control winning at least a share of the NBC if they win out and Minerva loses a game.
The winning must start Friday at Mount Union stadium or you might hear a fat lady singing about the Leps season on the way out.
OFFENSE: Chad Neff leads the conference in passing yardage by nearly 300 yards. He is 87 of 143 passing for 1104 yards, has thrown 7 touchdowns, but has also thrown five interceptions. To Neff’s credit, several balls have taken unlucky bounces tipping off Leopards’ receivers and into the hands of defenders. His targets include: Trent Ohman, who leads the NBC in receptions with 33 for 355 yards and a touchdown and Gavin Lovejoy who is also a threat to take it to the house at any time with his 18 receptions for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns so far this season. If it wasn’t for an early whistle in last week’s Minerva game he quite possibly could have taken in another pass for a score. Dillon Stertzbach is also capable of having a big game any night as he has recorded 13 catches for 207 yards this season. On the ground, Neff leads the team with 549 yards on 116 attempts and also has a team leading 7 touchdowns on the ground. Neff has only fumbled once all year long. Runningback Lucas Poyser along with Neff have accounted for 96% of the Leopards rushing yards this season. Poyser has rushed for 372 yards through the first half of the year, scored 5 touchdowns, and averages 5.5 yards a carry. Protection has been a big issue for the Leopards this season as Neff has been sacked 13 times for 104 yards. The Leopards line needs to stay focused immediately on every play to avoid the speed of Alliance catching up to Neff in the backfield. The Leopards will want to get ahead against the Aviators early unlike last season when they fell behind 14-0 before routing Alliance in the second half. The Aviators are a more experienced team this season and chasing points against them will not be a cake walk like last year’s second half
DEFENSE: On defense Louisville finally had a decent game against the run last week at Minerva only allowing 89 yards on the ground. However, the Leps gave up 202 yards through the air, including a 67-yard meltdown touchdown at the end of the game. Part of the problem is their inability to get to the quarterback. Louisville has only recorded six sacks this season. If Louisville doesn’t get pressure up front and doesn’t fix their pass coverage after last week, it could be a long night come Friday against the second best air attack in the NBC. The Leopards defense has only forced 6 turnovers this season and only one of those was an interception. A pick on defense would be a huge lift to the defense and the entire team in this ever important playoff-like battle on the Mount Union turf. Louisville’s pass coverage hasn’t been all bad though as opponents are only completing 46% of their passes against the Leps and only averaging 112 yards a game through the air.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Special teams again played a huge role in last week’s contest at Minerva. A bad snap on the third extra point by the Leopards left the score 20-7 and Louisville ended up falling behind 29-26 do to their failure to convert and stop PAT conversions against Minerva. Also, do to the lack of confidence in the snap, hold, and kicking of special teams, Coach John Demarco elected to go for a touchdown at the end of the game rather than try for the tie. Kicker Merrick Storlie has yet to attempt a field goal this season, but has converted from up to 50 yards away in practice. Storlie has converted 11 of 16 extra point kicks this season.
OFFENSE: The Aviators lightning explosive offense is averaging 38.4 points per game and has scored 6 touchdowns of 50 or more yards. Alliance is led by Senior multi-dimensional quarterback Taurice Scott. Scott has completed 49 of 92 passes for 830 yards, and has thrown 7 touchdowns versus just 2 interceptions. He is also an equal threat on the ground averaging 9.3 yards per carry. Scott leads the team in both rushing touchdowns with 5 and rushing yards with 530. Sharing the load with Scott in the backfield is runningback Frank Hill who has rushed for 251 yards on just 28 attempts and has found the endzone 4 times already this year. Scott also has several targets in the passing game. Wide Receiver Vernon Martin has 16 catches for a conference leading 396 yards. He also leads the NBC in yards per catch (for those with 4 catches or more) at 24.8 and has scored 4 touchdowns on the season. Jalen Mays is another go-to guy for the Aviators who has hauled in 15 catches for 223 yards and a touchdown. Parrish Martin, Nathan Rice, and Kordelle Phillips are also viable threats in the Aviator air attack.
DEFENSE: While most defenses try to bend and not break, the Aviators defense has become a break or take defense. The Aviators have surrendered 20.2 points per game, but have also forced 13 turnovers (7 Interceptions, 6 Fumbles). Alliance has turned three of those interceptions into direct points as Parrish Martin, Ty Roose, and Scott have all recorded pick sixes. A total of 6 different Alliance defenders have picked off passes this season. Linebackers Hill and Donnie Munnick have combined for 67 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks. Hill has also picked off a pass and recovered a fumbled. Linebacker Seth McConnell has also gotten to the quarterbacks twice this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Leopards fans will be happy to know that the Aviators share their pain in the kicking game as well. Like Louisville, Alliance has yet to attempt a field goal this season and between kickers Nick Howard and D’Quan Hawkins have converted just 12 of 22 PAT kicks. In attempts to make up for lost kicks, the Aviators are also 2 of 7 on two-point conversion attempts. The Aviators also show explosiveness in the return game as both Parrish Martin and Phillips have taken punts in for touchdowns. Alliance’s return coverage may have some holes for Leopards to run through as it has allowed one kick return for a touchdown this year against the cross-town Louisville team.
Last week was my final prediction, nothing good comes out of them. There will be no more predictions made on LouisvilleLeopards.org. Go Leopards!
Number of Shutouts: Louisville-3, Alliance-0
Leopards Highest Margin of Victory: 2008 they won 49-0
Alliance’s Highest Margin of Victory: 1987 they won 28-7
Highest Combined Score: 58 Points – 2010 – Louisville 44, Alliance 14
Lowest Combined Score: 10 Points – 1984 – Louisville 7, Alliance 3
Longest Winning Streak: Louisville – 4 Games – 2007-Present
Longest Aviators Winning Streak: 2 Games – 1986-87
Total Points Scored: Louisville-273, Alliance-158
Average Score: Louisville-20, Alliance 11