N-Y ground game hurt by injury to top runner
NELSONVILLE — Dave Boston Jr. called the performance by senior flanker Jeremy Warren possibly the best receiving performance he’s ever witnessed from one of his players.
“He was so dag-gone good,” Boston noted.
And then some. Warren hauled in five catches for a whopping 255 yards and three touchdowns as the Buckeyes (3-1, 1-0 Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division) opened league play with a 28-7 win at River Valley.
The Buckeyes needed every one of them. The running game was held in check, and then knocked off track when sophomore tailback Alex Mount was injured. Mount didn’t play in the second half, and won’t be suited up this week when Nelsonville-York travels to Logan (1-3).
“He’s a no-go for this Friday,” Boston said on Monday. “We’re hopeful for the week after that.”
N-Y survived without Mount, the catalyst in the Buckeyes’ power running game, against the Raiders. Mount has 432 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season.
Career nights from Warren, and sophomore quarterback Hunter Edwards, made sure the Buckeyes extended their winning streak to three straight games. Both figure to be a large part of the equation if Nelsonville-York is to make it four in a row.
On Monday, Boston didn’t know who would eat the carries usually allocated for Mount in the N-Y offense. It’s possible the Buckeyes will look for even more from Warren.
“We’ll look at it hard this week. We really can’t answer that right now,” Boston said. “We’ve lost good ones before and had to find a way to replace them. But there’s no doubt those are some big shoes to fill.”
As for the Chieftains, Friday’s clash is the latest installment in a long-running rivalry series that can be traced back through 85 previous meetings. The series resumed in 2011 after a decade-long absence. The Buckeyes won in 2011 (42-6), then hung a 50-0 shutout on Logan in 2012.
Last year, the Chiefs got a measure of revenge. Logan won 14-12 at Boston Field after the Buckeyes’ two-point try with 5:38 was no good.
Logan took that emotional win, and used it to spark a 5-1 season finish that included a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League championship. The Buckeyes were still thinking about the loss a week later in a lop-sided setback at Meigs.
“It was one of those games that kind of broke our back a little bit. It was tough to swallow,” Boston said. “That’s the way it can be in a rivalry game.”
Despite their record, there’s nothing to indicate the Chiefs will be an easy mark. Logan lost a double-OT heartbreaker to Lancaster (43-42), then dropped another high-scoring game at Teays Valley (44-40). The Chiefs rebounded with a 55-7 win at Meigs, but were stopped last Friday at 4-0 Loudonville (43-13).
Logan is giving up 34.2 points a game, but scoring 37.5 points a contest with a spread offense predicated on throwing the ball. Boston has been impressed.
“They’re the best 1-3 team in Southeast Ohio,” he said.
Quarterback Lane Little isn’t big, but is producing big numbers. He tied a Logan record with four touchdown passes in each of the first two games, and has 870 passing yards and 11 touchdowns through the air this season.
And the Chiefs can still run the ball as well. Bryce McBride (358 yards, 8.5 per carry) leads the way there, and Little is nimble enough to extend plays when under pressure.
The Buckeyes, who have allowed just 19 points in the last three games combined, will have their defensive work cut out for them. N-Y will be stretched across the field by Logan’s formations, and will have to make plays in space. Control is the key, Boston said.
“That’s tough. You have to go 100 percent every play and do a great job with penetration,” the coach noted. “You want to put pressure on them, but be under control too.”
The game is big for Nelsonville-York’s postseason hopes as well. The Buckeyes enter the weekend fourth in Division VI, Region 21; the top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
The Buckeyes will be without Mount, but not motivation.
“It’s a big game for a lot of reasons,” Boston said. “We have a lot to play for.”
Jason Arkley is a sports writer for The Athens Messenger, an affiliate publication to The Logan Daily News.