Friday, November 12, 1999

Lebanon better prepared this time




BY DAVE SCHUTTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Emotion was lacking. Enthusiasm, a trademark of the 1998 team, was nowhere to be found.

        Those tags, placed on the defending state champion Lebanon football team, were removed last Friday after the Warriors posted a 17-0 shutout over Springboro in a first-round playoff game.

        “Our kids have been waiting all season for the tournament to begin,” Lebanon coach Dave Brausch said. “We saw something in the second half that we haven't seen all season.”

        Lebanon will play undefeated Kings tonight in the Division II, Region 8 semifinals at Fairfield Stadium. The winner will play Edgewood or Chillicothe.

        Both teams are members of the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Cardinal Division. Kings defeated Lebanon 14-7 in the third game of the season (Sept.10), at Lebanon.

        “We have made several changes since the first game that have improved the defense,” Brausch said.

        “Justin Runyon moved from strong safety to linebacker, Conor McGeehan was brought up from the junior varsity to play tackle, and Matt McCutchan moved from tackle to end.”

        These changes were initiated because most teams were running to the opposite side of Lebanon's defensive star, Jordan Hicks, a 6-foot-5, 245-pounder being heavily recruited by many major colleges.

        Brausch said the Warriors defense is going to have to toughen up against the Kings running game.

        “They didn't run wild on us the first game, but they held on to the ball too doggone long,” Brausch said. “That limits the number of times our offense had the ball, and we can't let that happen again.”

        Kings features four backs — Mike Hurley, Mike Vanscoy, Ronnie Swearingin and Jimmy Robertson — who all have rushed for more than 800 yards.

        “Mike (Hurley) was out the first time we played Lebanon,” Kings coach Andy Olds said. “We're a little older, a lot wiser and very healthy going into this game.”

        Olds pointed to ball control as the key for Kings.

        “We don't have to play the game of our lives to beat them, but we have to be mistake-free,” Olds said. “But we do have to play a solid game and not turn the ball over. Lebanon turned it over twice in the first game.”

        The Kings defense has bent but not broken. The Knights may be vulnerable against the pass, but Lebanon averages only about 10 throws a game.

        Tailback Nick Singleton (25 TDs and 1,850 yards rushing) is Lebanon's major offensive threat.

        “If our offense controls the ball, it puts pressure on their offense to score,” Olds said. “Our four running backs just keep coming, and this can wear on an opponent's defense.”

       



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