by Willie Lutz
Loveland, Oh.- Last week, the words “new breed of tigers” were in the headline. This week, that breed proved once again that they’re in for the long run. In this case, the long run is the playoffs. A team that looked dead for the first half of the 2014 season has now outscored its last three opponents 135-19 (an average score of about 45-6), including a 45-0 win against Walnut Hills last Saturday.
Consistency; it’s a word that been used in nearly every piece of Loveland football news this season. Now, the Tigers have found the positive side of it. The whole team is clicking. It could be argued that the return of a key leader, Jeff Prifti, has awaken the sleeping monster.
Jeff Prifti is a key component on all three fronts for Loveland. On defense (though he hasn’t had any reps at the position this season), Prifti is a lockdown corner. On offense, Prifti provides another running threat to complement Luke Waddell. However, Prifti’s impact on special teams is probably the most significant. Jeff Prifti has been Evan Burig’s kick holder since their sophomore year. Burig looked shaky earlier this season, but in the game against Walnut Hills, he effortlessly nailed a 40-yard field goal and 6 extra points.
The offense is turning into a three-headed monster with Giovanni Ricci, Luke Waddell, and Drew Plitt leading one of the most explosive units in Southwest Ohio. Giovanni Ricci is providing a crucial target for Drew Plitt. Ricci, who committed to Western Michigan, leads the ECC in receiving yards and seems to constantly be catching first down passes for Drew Plitt.
Luke Waddell could make any team stay afloat. The team leaned on the running back to carry them through the rough start. The 5’8” sophomore finds ways to make even the strongest defense look irrelevant. Waddell trails Kings’ running back, DeAndre Barnett by 48 yards for the league lead (Barnett has 1136, Waddell has 1088) on 50 less carries. Waddell now has six games with over 100 yards rushing, including 208 yards Saturday over Walnut Hills (he also rushed for three touchdowns in the game).
Finally, Drew Plitt has learned a lot about Drew Plitt throughout this season. Plitt seems to have learned that you can’t hit the home run pass without setting it up with some small ball. Plitt, who couldn’t catch a break in the beginning of the season, now owns the second best quarterback rating among ECC starters. He has found his groove and now acts as a leader in the most important position on the field.
Now, you can’t win 45-0 without the help of some defense. In this match-up, Loveland’s defensive line was lights out. The front four were led by junior Jake Saunders, who hasn’t had his name called very often, only acting as a run stopper, until the Withrow match-up. Quarterbacks, Walnut Hills’ Kevin Blount especially, are now having nightmares of Loveland’s #90. The junior had Blount on his back on plenty of plays throughout the night.
The now 5-3 Loveland Tigers will now move onto a week nine home match-up against the 3-5 Turpin Spartans. The Tigers need a win in their next two games if they want a shot in the playoffs. The team sits at #10 in the Division II, region 6 computer rankings, needing to be in the top eight to qualify for the postseason. The game will be at 7 PM inside Tiger stadium, where the Tigers are undefeated this season.
Region 6 - 1. Cin. LaSalle (7-1) 22.8625, 2. Cin. Mount Healthy (8-0) 21.3586, 3. Kings Mills Kings (8-0) 18.425, 4. Lima Senior (8-0) 17.6125, 5. Harrison (6-2) 15.3875, 6. New Carlisle Tecumseh (5-3) 12.3125, 7. Cin. Glen Este (5-3) 11.5625, 8. Cin. Winton Woods (4-3) 11.4177, 9. Xenia (5-3) 10.85, 10. Loveland (5-3) 9.9625, 11. Cin. Northwest (5-3) 9.4451, 12. Vandalia Butler (3-5) 7.7875
|Kings||5 - 0||1.000||174||48||8 - 0||1.000||296||121||W8|
|Glen Este||4 - 1||.800||144||66||5 - 3||.625||221||137||W4|
|Loveland||4 - 1||.800||190||79||5 - 3||.625||256||172||W3|
|Anderson||3 - 2||.600||103||121||3 - 5||.375||140||209||L1|
|Turpin||2 - 3||.400||74||111||3 - 5||.375||138||165||W1|
|Milford||1 - 4||.200||108||161||3 - 5||.375||196||193||L4|
|Walnut Hills||1 - 4||.200||28||146||1 - 7||.125||75||214||L3|
|Withrow||0 - 5||.000||50||139||0 - 8||.000||50||142||L8|