Looking at the Explorers
With two very impressive wins over North Penn and Pennsbury in the first two games of the year, La Salle will be looking for a huge win Friday night to start 3-0. Last week, the defense shined while the offense struggled. The Explorer defense shutout the Falcons and shutdown the run game. Going into the game, the Pennsbury ground game was going to be a big factor in how the night went for the Explorers. Luckily, they shut it down early and controlled the rest of the game. This week, however, they are going to need more than just a ground shutdown. The likes of Sr. Anthony Piscopo (DE) and Austin Lemke (MLB) will have to handle Sr. running back Lorenzo Harrison (Maryland commit). Harrison is one of the fastest and more talented tailbacks in the area and will run the ball either right up the gut or will tend to swing to the outside. Furthermore, Sr. Kohler Setley will also have his hands full. Dematha quarterback Beau English will be looking to go deep all night. Jr. CB Tom Flavin had a great breakup down field for the Explorers last week. He saved what would of been a 40 yard Pennsbury touchdown with a spectacular play. In all, the Explorer defense will be a pivotal piece this week for La Salle to succeed. If they can hold the ground and air attack, it will give the offense an opportunity to put up some points.
On the other side of the ball, the Explorers didn't look 100% against Pennsbury. Sr. Chris Ferguson struggled through the air going only 8 for 17 with 58 yards. Moreover, wide outs Winston Eubanks and Charles Headen didn't get much room to shine either. The air raid against Dematha will have to be a big one. Ferguson will have to take advantage of opportunities and target Eubanks, Headen, and Rinella to spread the field. On the other hand, one player who really showed up on the offense last week was Jr. running back Syaire Madden. Madden ran for 135 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown and tore the Pennsbury defense into pieces. Once again, Madden is going to have to have another 100+ yard performance. Ferguson will have to use the option and screen passes to Madden and Rinella to spread the Dematha defense out to create space. The Explorers have to realize and exercise their wealth of targets on the ground and in the air for it to be a successful night. Lastly, the Explorer offensive line will have a tough test ahead of them. Dematha has a huge pass rush and will never be shy to attack Ferguson. Sr. offensive lineman TJ Garvin is out this week with a torn shoulder labrum.
Looking at the Stags
After looking over Dematha's roster, you would have to be lying if you say you are not impressed. The Stags have a wealth of Division 1 commits for next season, most of them committing to high profile college football schools . They are returning 16 starters all together on both ends of the ball and are looking for a 3rd straight WCAC championship. They started off the season steam rolling Florida powerhouse Miami Central 34-18 on ESPN and then just beating out American Heritage
23-22 last week.
On the offensive side of the ball, Dematha returns 8 starters. Quarterback Beau English returns as the starter and will be looking to put up some numbers this week. English uses the read - option and the outlet screen about 85% of the time. He will either hand it off to Jr. Khory Spruill, who had three rushing touchdowns last week, Sr. Lorenzo Harrison (Maryland), or will keep it himself. Ever so often, look for English to opt to take it himself off the option but then hit a wide out for a screen. He will certainly move the ball everywhere Friday night. In the air, the Stags have Sr. receiver Tino Ellis (Maryland) and Jr. tight end Chase Young. The 220 pound Chase Young plays well on the defensive side of the ball as well. He is gathering much attention along with offers from Alabama, MSU, Arizona State, Ohio State, Penn State, and many more high profile schools. Luckily for the Explorers, Maryland commit and another stud receiver, Darryl Turner Jr., is out for the season with a right ankle injury that he suffered against Miami Central. Although it is a huge blow for the air game, English will still have plenty of options to choose from.
Turning over the paper, Dematha is a solid wall on defense. Leading the defensive line is Penn State commit, Shane Simmons. The 6-4 220lb senior leads the line along with Rutgers commit Elijah Johnson (OL, DL) who will be all over the tough Explorer offensive line. It will be a good test to see if La Salle's Jimmy Morrissey, Conor McCracken, Ryan Schutta, and Matt McDermott can stop the rush. Moving to the outside, cornerback Robbie Robinson (Arizona State commit) will be another headache for the Explorer offense.
As you can see, the Stags are stacked everywhere you look.
After reviewing both La Salle and Dematha, anyone would say Dematha has the edge coming into Friday. If La Salle wants to have a chance for the upset, they will need to execute on the offensive side of the ball, in the air and on the ground. The Explorers had a very solid week of preparation and will be coming out strong early. I will not count La Salle out of this one. It all comes down to how Dematha handles the Syaire Madden rush and how well they can perform on offense. Never a doubt, it will certainly be an exciting game to watch.
The meaning of this game goes beyond football. La Salle graduate Travis Manion '99 and his best friend Brendan Looney, a graduate of Dematha, both died serving our country. This game is meant to commemorate the lives of these two men who were best friends while they were at the Naval Academy. Travis made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting in the Iraq War in 2007. Manion was shot by an enemy sniper while protecting his patrol, allowing them to escape free from harm. Brendan Looney also gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2010 in a helicopter crash while fighting. In 2011, both Manion and Looney were thus moved to Arlington National Cemetery and were reunited once again, buried side by side, Brother's Forever.
"If not me, then who" - Travis Manion"
La Salle will take on Dematha Friday Night at 7:00 at Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland. If you can't make it to the game, be sure to listen online with a live audio broadcast from Bob Long Sports. Click this link to listen live beginning at 7:00PM. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bob-long-sports . Be sure to follow @LaSalle_Sports for game updates and check back to the site for more pre-games and player spotlights.
- Christopher Sanders
Follow Chris on Twitter @sandman285
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @whizwitsports