OHSAA Playoffs - Division VII - Region 25

Southern Indians (5-1) at Norwalk St. Paul Flyers (5-1) Saturday 7:00PM

The St. Paul Flyers are no stranger to the OHSAA post-season. In fact, they have made 21 appearances in the playoffs, holding a remarkable 41-20 record in post-season play. They won a state championship in 2009, and have lost in the state finals four times (1997, 1999, 2004, 2014). This year marks their 9th consecutive year that they have appeared in the playoffs.

But despite those lofty numbers, the Indians are not going to back down, "We have played Norwayne and Trimble, two great programs also. We better not be in awe of anyone. We feel like we are building a program at Southern by winning three straight league championships. We lost arguably the greatest group of seniors in school history from last year's team," Indians coach Rich Wright remarked.

He continued, "A lot of people questioned how well we would do this year, but we work hard and play hard against whoever we play. We have a lot of respect for St. Paul, but we need this win for us and the Southern Local program."

The Flyers are certainly a fundamentally sound football team. They like to establish their running game and then take advantage of defenses through the air when they over pursue.

"They like to run the ball. They run a version of the wing-T, and come off the ball really well and have great backs. They have three back who all run hard. They can pass when they want to, and #8 (senior receiver Adam Baker) is a good receiver," Wright described the Flyers offense.

The Flyers offense averages over 300 yards per game with senior running back Camden Crabbs #20, and junior Will Stieber #32 carrying the load running the ball. One issue the Flyers are facing in the playoffs is that their starting and backup quarterbacks are out due to injury. Freshman signal-caller Brady Daley played in the Flyers 28-7 win over Monroeville two weeks ago.

Defensively, the Flyers are a swarming defense that has limited their opponents to just 49 points on the season, "The defense flies to the football with multi-fronts. They have a top notch program and are well respected state wide and have one of the top coaches in the state that I have a great deal of respect for in John Livengood."

Stieber leads the Flyers in tackles from his linebacker position while senior outside linebacker Steven DeLeon #24, senior defensive tackle Ben Meyer #56, and senior defensive end Gavin Moffit #55 are all standout players on the Flyers defensive side of the ball. They also have a solid kicker in junior Tyler Perkins #80 who has made 19 of 21 extra points along with booting five field goals on the year.

Photo Curtesy of: Reflector/Jerry Harrington

The Indians and Flyers have had two weeks to prepare for the game, so don't be surprised to see both teams use a few new wrinkles in their arsenal. For coach Wright it was just another oddity to the 2020 football season, "I hope it helped us, but this is the first time I have had a bye as a head coach, so I was totally unsure how to use it. The bye was just another strange thing about 2020. I'm just happy we got to play this great game. We worked hard on conditioning last week and I think we got healthier. As a coach I would prefer to play every week."

Wright has coached in a number of big games, so he is well aware of what it takes to win them. He said, "Like all games, turnovers and penalties will be key. We have to make big plays and tackle well."