Friday, November 12, 1999

New Richmond faces diverse attack in Gallia

Enquirer contributor

        When it comes to Gallia Academy, New Richmond's playoff opponent tonight, never mind the old line about not being able to tell the players without a program.

        Even a program might not be enough. Gallia is so diverse with its offense that 11 different players have at least 100 yards rushing on the season.

        “We've had a lot of different players play well for us,” said Gallia coach Brent Saunders, whose 9-2 team meets 9-2 New Richmond in a Division III regional semifinal game at 7:30 tonight at Portsmouth's Memorial Stadium. “We're playing about as well as we can right now.”

        Gallia runs a multiple offense, sometimes lining up in a wing-T formation and sometimes in an I formation. The Blue Devils have rushed for 2,145 yards this season.

        Quarterback Jeremy Payton leads the offense and is also a talented kicking specialist. Payton has thrown for 1,212 yards and nine TDs. Split end Heath Rothgeb (18 receptions for 334 yards) and flanker Cody Lane (32 receptions for 537 yards) are top targets. Lane is Gallia's most dangerous skill player, having rushed for 302 yards and averaging a 13-yard gain every time he touches the ball.

        Ike Simmons and T.R. Rogers are usually the starting running backs, but Rogers has been struggling with an ankle sprain. Alex Saunders, the coach's son, has picked up the slack and led Gallia in rushing the last two weeks.

        Saunders and Jared Bryan, probably the team's top player, start at linebacker and are leaders for Gallia's defense.

        “On film, (Gallia) looks very good,” New Richmond coach Ron Bird said. “They run a 5-2 defense, and it's a good, swarming defense.”

        New Richmond is coming off a 42-32 upset of the region's No.1 seed, London, that Gallia coach Saunders called “sort of a David-and-Goliath-type thing. You could see London outweighed them by 20 or 30 pounds per man on the line and they dressed 20 more players, but New Richmond hung with them.”

        New Richmond fell behind 20-7 in the first quarter but rallied for a 21-20 halftime lead and then frustrated London in the second half. Bird credited his offensive line for an excellent night, leading the way for sophomore John McMonigle to rush for 162 yards and three TDs.

        “We exchanged films of the last four games,” Saunders said. “I see New Richmond as a team that has definitely been getting better the last three to four games.”


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