Friday, November 05, 1999

Lebanon, Springboro meet in 'backyard rivalry'




BY DAVE SCHUTTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When Mark Kalugyer took over as head football coach at Springboro four years ago, many of the players expressed an interest in playing nearby Lebanon. “We wanted to play Lebanon last year, but it couldn't be arranged,” Kalugyer said. “We even tried to set up a scrimmage this season. It didn't work out.”

        Springboro (8-2) gets its wish tonight when the Panthers make the short trip to Lebanon (8-2) for a first-round Division II, Region 8 playoff football game against the Warriors.

        The two schools have crossed paths before. Springboro was a longtime member of the Fort Ancient Valley Conference, which Lebanon left the Mid-Miami League to join in 1997. When the FAVC expanded this season, Springboro left for the MML.

        “(Lebanon coach) Dave (Brausch) and I took the job the same year,” Kalugyer said. “The first two years we were in the FAVC, and they were in the MML. Now it's reversed.”

        Springboro won its last seven games to capture the Mid-Miami League North Division championship.

        Lebanon also has lost twice, including to Mason last week in the regular-season finale.

        Kalugyer's coaching philosophy is simple.

        “You've got to play good defense and stop the run first,” Kalugyer said. “We have a lot of seniors on defense who have played since junior high and have done a good job.”

        In 10 games, the Panther defense has allowed only 49 points. The offense has scored 268.

        Kalugyer pointed to senior linemen and linebackers Mike South, Joey Mockbee, Joel Weimer, Andy Tribbey, Ryan Grothjan, Jason Kuhn, Jason Campbell and Justin Griffen as the key players against the run.

        Lebanon tailback Nick Singleton (194 carries, 1,850 yards) will be tested by the Springboro defense.

        “Nick's a great back who can score any time he has the ball,” Kalugyer said. “But their quarterback (Casey Abrams) runs the option well and is also a threat.”

        Like Lebanon, the Panthers also have an outstanding tailback in Adam Dillon, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior who scored 14 touchdowns and rushed for 1,535 yards on 220 carries.

        Quarterback Luke Howard triggers the option offense that goes to the play-action pass about five times a game. Sophomore fullback Alex Grothjan is used primarily as a blocker.

        Springboro has an advantage in that only two players go both ways (offense and defense). Lebanon has five.

        “We went to two platoons two years ago, and it's worked well for us,” Kalugyer said. “We feel we can specialize more by spending more time with each player teaching them what to do.”

        Kalugyer looks for a low-scoring game, with defense the deciding factor.

        “This could be the beginning of a good backyard rivalry,” Kalugyer said. “Two schools this close should be playing every year.”

       



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