2004 3A Finals Preview
Friday Nov 26th
3A Manlius (Bureau Valley)(13-0) vs. Addison (Driscoll)(11-2) 7pm
Their path through the playoffs wasn't quite as dominant, though they face a very good 5-4Bloomington (Central Catholic)in the 1st round. PowerhouseSpring Valley (Hall) (9-1) in the 2nd round plus a talented Elmwood [E.-Brimfield Coop] team in the quarterfinals.
Head coach Jason Kirby has taken a team that had only 18 wins since it's start in 1995 to 1999 and has qualified for the playoffs in all but his first year as head coach. While Kirby & the Storm have fallen short the last 2 years after finishing the regular season 8-1, Bureau Valley will be making it's first ever finals game in any sport.
The Storm have a daunting task ahead of them, knock off the seemingly unbeatable Highlanders of Driscoll.
While they were the favorite to win the finals in the preseason. The favorite is always just the favorite & not guaranteed a trophy. Many had placed Driscoll at the top of the list to win it's 4 title in a row in 4A. Fast forward to the end of the season when Driscoll lost it's last 2 games and the Highlanders looked as if they might not achieve that rare feat. Move forward to the playoffs where the Highlanders land in 3A as a bubble team and now things started looking in the Highlanders favor.
The Storm however, look to have an advantage. With a serious rushing game and a moderate pass attack, scrambling QB Brad Monier with his backs Preston Jones & Ben Doty need to just follow the lead of an offensive line that out weights most of the 5A thru 8A teams. Weighting in at an average 6'1 240 lbs are Kevin Thomas 6' 210, Jeremy Marlowe 6'1 215, Eric Blackert 6'1 205, Spencer Yates 6'2 265 & big man Josh Coyle 6'2 305.
While size does matter, the Highlanders answer on defense will be it's three leading tacklers, Kyle Jenkins (DE 6'4 215 jr.), Donny Grieco (DT 5'10 240 sr.) & Shane Franken (LB 6' 190 jr.). Jenkins who started as a sophomore is the real danger at end. With the speed of a linebacker & the arms that can stretch out like tree branches, he's often found in the backfield disrupting passes or sticking an arm out to get a tackle while being blocked.
Monier has been the Storms most potent weapon. With 27 TDs, 1101 yards rushing & 819 yards passing with 11 TDs, guessing whether or not he'll be keeping it, passing it or handing off the ball to his fullback Jones has kept many defense on their heals & helped put Storm jerseys in the endzone.
Marlow, Jones, Yates, Doty, Blackert & Monier all stay on the field once the offense leaves to take up position on the defensive side of the ball. While the defense hasn't seem to worn down during the season so far. The finals always have a a way of bringing out the best & the worst. But for a team that has allowed just 1303 total yards, the best of any team in the finals, it remains to have happened.
While looking at the past is fun and all, these Highlanders should most likely be looking at the future. Bureau Valley isn't just going to bow down if Driscoll comes out & throws it's jerseys on the field. Although the seniors on the team may think that winning a title is a birth right at this point in Driscolls history, coach Racki most likely will make it clear to his squad that there are 48 minutes that need to be played and in some cases maybe a little more. As they had to in 2001 when they played a double overtime game.
Driscoll comes into the game very balanced. With a rushing game that's averaging 5.4 yards a carry, the Highlanders leading rusher & scorer Ryan Meyer, will no doubt see the ball quite a few times Friday. However, Driscoll has been know to lull the defense to creep up with it's repetitive rushing attack then drop back and send a long pass to one of it's receivers.
With only 18 receptions on the year, John Tranchitella (WR 6'2 200 jr.) doesn't seem like a frequent target, but is a danger every time they throw the ball to him, as the speedster has close to a 30 yard average for receptions and has broken some big plays. his biggest was a 75 yarder.
The Highlanders are lead on defense by Kyle Jenkins (DE 6'4 215 jr.), Donny Grieco (DT 5'10 240 sr.) & Shane Franken (LB 6' 190 jr.). Jenkins who started as a sophomore can be a real danger at end. With the speed of a linebacker & the arms that can stretch out like tree branches, he's often found in the backfield disrupting passes or sticking an arm out to get a tackle while being blocked. He's tied with Grieco with 9 sacks & followed closely by Franken with 8 to lead the team.
by Vincent Johnson
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