PDT Sports Writer
Using the word experience to describe Friday’s Division IV, Region 15 quarterfinal between No. 5 Piketon and No. 4 Minford can be interpreted many different ways.
There’s the experience of playing each other (five prior meetings since 2006, which includes this year’s 19-14 win by the visiting Falcons), the playoff experience a handful of Minford upperclassmen have from the Falcons’ 2010 playoff run or the fact that the Redstreaks have 18 seniors who contribute to a team that is making just their second playoff appearance in school history and first in 15 years.
It’s one of the several storylines that Minford coach Brent Daniels and his squad will face when the two teams lock horns. But if the mood of the squad early in the week is any indication of how his team will be, Daniels feels optimistic.
“They’re pretty relaxed right now, most of these seniors and juniors have been through it in the playoffs a couple of times and they know what kind of atmosphere is going to be like,” Daniels said. “I think they’re excited to get us right back to where we were at and get back to the playoffs.”
What he’s most impressed with those who have postseason experience under their belts is how they understand it’s business when they cross the white lines.
“This group just kind of really leads by example,” Daniels said. “I think they all know what’s at stake and just let it all go this week.
“You lose the one (game), your season is over and we’re taking inventory. But this group is a little different than some of the previous groups I’ve had, they’re a good, tight group but they just lead by example and the seniors have done a pretty good job of it so far.”
The Falcons (8-2) are coming off their second loss in three weeks to close out the season after starting the 2012 campaign with seven-straight wins. One of those wins came in Week 3 at Piketon in which Minford scored 12 points in the final two minutes of the contest leave with a victory.
But as Daniels pointed out, teams change from then to now. Offensively, he felt that his young offensive line needs to stay on their blocks longer.
“We blocked them but we didn’t block them long enough,” Daniels said. “We could’ve had a few bigger plays so that’s one thing we’ve been concentrating on. And ball security, we’ve got to stop having the turnover bug bite us.”
On the other side of the ball, Daniels was giving glowing reviews.
“I like the way our defense has been playing since we’ve started into our conference,” Daniels said. “…Again, we’re going to rely on them again Friday night. Piketon likes to throw it and throw it a bunch and we’ve got to get back to bumping and running and playing some good, solid defense.”
In the first meeting, Redstreaks quarterback Isaac Brabson was 21-of-23 passing for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Daniels said the key to slowing this high-powered air attack would be to get Brabson out of rhythm.
“The amount of seniors they have and the amount of time they’ve played together, they can pretty much look at each other and know what to do,” Daniels said.”…We’re going to have to get up in there and mix it up a little bit and confuse (Brabson). He’s a top quarterback, the kid throws the ball well, he throws the deep ball well, he throws the short ball well and he’s a threat with his feet.”
Piketon finished second in the Scioto Valley Conference with a 25-16 win over Adena last week.
Preparations was hindered this week when cold weather, harsh winds and rain associated with Hurricane Sandy reached the region. It resulted in the Falcons missing out on practice in full pads up through at least Tuesday.
Minford had plans Wednesday of a full practice at the Trojan Coliseum. Although physical reps on the practice field were lost, the team made up for it with more reps in the weight room, some conditioning in the gym and more frequent film sessions.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com.