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On The Radar

STRUTHERS VS. WEST BRANCH PREVIEW

PHOTO CREDIT: GARY LEININGER

By Radar Pavlov

It’s going to be a big-time barn burner this Friday Night at Clinton Heacock Stadium in Beloit when Division IV Region 13 #1 Seed West Branch Warriors plays host to that region’s #8 Seed Struthers Wildcats in Ohio High School Athletics Association Football Division IV Region 13 Quarterfinals. The winner of Struthers-West Branch will move on to Division IV Region 13 Semifinals against the winner of the game between Akron Buchtel and Canal Fulton Northwest on Saturday, November 12.

Here is a scouting report on those 2 fine teams

Division IV Region 13 #8 Seed Struthers Wildcats (7-4)

Struthers has one of the most potent rushing offenses in the Mahoning Valley. Last Friday night in their first-round win over Ashtabula Edgewood, 49-16, the running tandem of senior quarterback Alex Grzyb aka “Grzyb the Great” and fellow senior running back Tyler Sanchez ran for a combined 266 rushing yards (Grzyb for 163 yards, Sanchez for 103 yards) while the Wildcats gained 486 yards of total offense.

They have a defense that can cause some havoc with some opponents offensive game plans, and last Friday Night was no exception when the Struthers defense created 4 Ashtabula Edgewood turnovers.

Struthers has won their last 6 games since beginning the 2022 season with a 1-4 mark, Their 4 losses came against teams who all made the playoffs, including the two teams that are still playing in Week 12 (Geneva and South Range).

A week ago, the ‘Cats won their first post-season game since 2013 (def. Lakeview, 14-3).

Struthers is making their fifth playoff appearance in the last seven years.

In John Bayuk’s third season, his Wildcats have more games (7) than the entire 2020 and 2021 (6) seasons combined.

Thru 11 Weeks (Struthers)

Scoring Offense: 33.9 Scoring Defense: 19.4

Division IV Region 13 #1 Seed West Branch Warriors (10-1)

West Branch has one of the most prolific offenses in the Valley in 2022.

With their win over Salem two weeks ago, West Branch clinched their third outright Eastern Buckeye Conference championship in a row. During a 3-year stretch (2020-22), the Warriors have accumulated a record of 31-4.

– Most wins in a three-year span at West Branch

1992-94 – 32 wins

2020-22 – 31 wins

1993-95 – 30 wins

1990-92 – 29 wins

West Branch has won 10 consecutive games since falling to Canfield in week one (35-31).

In their Week 11 win, West Branch crushed Mogadore Field, 52-20, behind a big day from Boston Mulinix (117 rushing yards) and Beau Alazaus (filling in for the injured Dru DeShields, 242 yards passing, 5 total touchdowns) among others.

West Branch has now compiled back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 1990-91 when coach Jim Laut’s teams won the Northeastern Buckeye Conference and advanced to the playoffs. Back then in 1990 and 1991, it would make a team to make the top 4 in any region in OHSAA Divisions I, II, III, IV, and V to qualify for the football playoffs.

Thru 11 Weeks (West Branch)

Scoring Offense: 45.9 Scoring Defense: 20.0

Keys to the Game

Alex Grzyb vs. Dru DeSheilds – Both are fine senior QB’s. Whoever makes the least mistakes will determine the winner.

Who Can Make the Big Plays? – Both schools are capable of the big play on both sides of the ball. Who can make enough big plays that will decide the game?

In The Zone – Both Struthers and West Branch are in the zone as in winning streaks: West Branch (10) and Struthers (6). One of these winning streaks will continue into Week 13 next week.

If you can’t be at Clinton Heacock Stadium in Beloit this Friday with kickoff time at 7 p.m., you can catch it LIVE on YSN Live Pay Per View, it costs you $9.99 during the OHSAA Football Playoffs. Air time for Struthers vs. West Branch on YSN Live is 6:50 p.m.

Catch me again for another On The Radar article on YSNLive.com.  I’m Radar Pavlov reporting.

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