FREDERICKTOWN — It’s two familiar playoff foes going at it once again.
In 2007, Fredericktown took on Wheelersburg in the regional semifinals and gave up a 21-point lead, only to win in overtime, 41-38. Then last year, they faced off again in the regional semis, with Fredericktown prevailing again, 15-14, when Wheelersburg fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line with 31 seconds left.
Fredericktown head coach Brian Baum wasn’t around for the first two games. But he understands the significance of the matchup.
“The boys are really excited. They really want to get out there,” Baum said.
The Freddies (11-0) do feel they’re ready. They’re looking at their 36-7 win over Monroe Central last Saturday as a tune-up.
Offensively, they racked up the yards on the ground. They spread it over the air early, with Ryan Logan and Tyler Hathaway attempting most of their passes in the first half. They may get more opportunities to air it out Saturday.
“We ran it (in the second half) to kill the clock. We still haven’t really shown what we can do (in the air),” Baum said.
This could be one of the keys to Fredericktown’s success in Saturday’s regional semifinal at Nelsonville-York Stadium. The Pirates (9-2) have given up 106 passing yards per game, on only 14 yards per completion. But many of those passes were from traditionally running teams that had fallen behind early.
Containing Brandon Schankweiler should be a major part of the Freddies’ strategy, on both sides of the ball. Schankweiler is responsible for 2,083 yards from scrimmage in 11 games this year. He’s the team’s leading rusher, receiver and scorer. On defense, he’s an equally large factor, ranking either first or second on the team in every major category including tackles, TFL, sacks, interceptions, passes deflected, fumbles caused and fumbles recovered.
As usual, the Freddies have to take on a team that’s a little bigger up front. But that’s something they’ve dealt with all year.
“They have a nice big offensive line. We just have to preach to our defensive line to stay low, and keep the linebackers flowing, and we’ll stop them,” Baum said.
The other key to victory could be the same factor that decided their last game: Turnovers.
“We have to limit the mistakes. We’ve been preaching about winning the turnover battle,” Baum said.