Friday, November 19, 1999

Lebanon, Edgewood agree: Mistake-free is key




BY DAVE SCHUTTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When two evenly matches football teams meet, mistakes often determine the outcome.

        “Like any other big game, the team that takes care of the football will win,” Lebanon coach Dave Brausch said. “We only turned the ball over one time in four games last year and that's why we won the state championship.”

        Defending Division II state champion Lebanon (10-2) plays undefeated Edgewood (12-0) for the Region 8 championship at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. The winner advances to the state semifinals.

        Edgewood coach Steve Channell agreed with Brausch.

        “At this level, an opponent will take advantage of mistakes,” Channell said. “We've had lapses throughout the season but in the two playoff games, we haven't turned the ball over.”

        Both Channell and Brausch employ the same offensive strategy of keeping the ball on the ground but out of different formations.

        Lebanon operates out of the "I' with Edgewood using the Wing-T.

        “Ross, Miamisburg and Monroe all used the "I' and we did well against them,” Channell said. “But Lebanon's much bigger and they're the defending state champions which gives them the advantage.”

        Tailback Nick Singleton is Lebanon's major offensive weapon, rushing for over 2,000 yards.

        Quarterback Casey Abrams could also be a factor. A first-year starter, Abrams averages eight passes a game, completing 65 percent.

        In last week's 17-12 victory over Mason, Lebanon's ground attack was so effective that Abrams only threw four passes, completing two, one going for an 80-yard touchdown.

        “They're quick and very explosive on offense and get to the ball on defense,” Channell said. “Their defense mirrors our offense in quickness which could be a problem.”

        While Lebanon features Singleton, Edgewood counters with three running backs (David White, Ryan White, Danny Beiser) who have all rushed for 1,000 or more yards.

        “Loveland runs out of the Wing T but it's only the second year they used it,” Brausch said. “Edgewood's kids have played it for years and their guys run it as well as I've ever seen.”

        As for defensing Edgewood, Brausch is concerned.

        “Edgewood's quarterback hides the ball well and is very tricky,” Brausch said. “We can't get caught up in their misdirection. Some teams key on either the motion, formations or the backs but I'm not saying what we'll do.”

        Brausch is also impressed with Edgewood's offensive line.

        “They may be small but they're very disciplined and quick,” Brausch said. “They get good position and sustain the blocks.”

        Statistically, Edgewood appears to have a slight advantage. The Cougars have scored 466 points and allowed 90 in 12 games with Lebanon scoring 454 points and giving up 125.

        “There's no doubt Lebanon has the advantage,” Channell said. “Their kids have been here before and are use to playing in big games in front of big crowds. They may be as good or better than last year.”

        Brausch knows the Lebanon defense must step up again.

        “Our defense has been very good in two playoffs games and allowed only 12 points,” Brausch said. “Edgewood's an awful good team and the defense will have to do it again.”

        During the past three seasons, these long-time Miami Miami League rivals have been two of Cincinnati's most successful teams with Lebanon compiling a 31-5 record and Edgewood coming it at 35-4.

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