Conference Showdown in DuBois
Written by: Billy Splain on Thursday, September 11th, 2014
The Clever Combatant
by The Beaver Swami
The ancient Chinese warlord Sun Tzu was the master on the battlefield. His guide “The Art of War” remains the handbook for modern warfare today. Sun Tzu believed that advantages on the battlefield are derived from planning, training, and by dictating the timing and location of the conflict. His armies overwhelmed the enemy by following his rules of engagement. Sun Tzu wrote “The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.”
This Friday two of the D10 conferences unbeaten will collide when the Beavers host Conneaut Area in a heavyweight showdown at EJ Mansell Stadium in DuBois. Located just south of Erie, CASH is a newly merged district combining Linesville, Conneaut Valley and Conneaut Lake high schools. The merger has produced a football team whose offense has averaged 46 points per game while it boasts one of the top defenses in the state holding opponents to a pedestrian 5 points per game. The Eagles are led by quarterback Hunter Merritt who was the top rushing signal callers in the region with nearly 2000 yards in 2013. Merritt is joined in the backfield by Elijah Anderson a tandem that could provide headaches for the Beavers. CASH’s offense is similar to DuBois as they spread the field, throw, and read option run. Defensively the Eagles are aggressive, locking down receivers and blitzing opposing quarterbacks forcing bad decisions. Conneaut Area is in the finest sense the anti-beaver.
Despite the accolades, Conneaut will be tested Friday at Mansell Stadium where you can expect a packed house for the Beaver’s home opener. The Beaver nation will be in rare form as they welcome an unbeaten squad home for the showdown. Expect the Beaver Express to be tested by an Eagles D that has been near perfect all year. Speaking of perfect, the #1 passing offense in the state is led by Quarterback Gabe French and his Fantastic 4, Bryson Paulinellie, Cole Kriner, Kevin Foley, and Daunte Dawson. French’s 781 yards and 12 TDs lead all passers statewide, while running back Devin Clark keeps the box full as a powerful Beaver running game looms large for defensive coordinators. Despite blitzing defenses, Varischetti’s play calling, French’s quick release, and a stout offensive line should prove to be more than a test for vaunted Conneaut defense this week. On the flip side, the Beaver Defense showed some improvement last week holding Meadville to 24 points as younger players like junior Wes Russell showed speed on the flat, and sophomore Noah Shaffer showed lots of grit in the middle facing a very large Bulldog fullback. As for the trenches, the Beaver D line led by the twin towers, Joe and Brad Peterson should offer a new skyline for Merritt.
Swami believes that Friday is a battle for the conference title. He sees all and has weighed Conneaut’s defense against the Beaver Express and found it lacking. In earlier games the Eagles have been able to pressure quarterbacks into making bad decisions and frustrating wide receivers with a lock down secondary. On Friday Conneaut will discover that imposing their will on Quarterback Gabe French will be more difficult. French has cultivated a relationship with an outstanding group of receivers, he trusts his line without question, has a premier back in Devin Clark, and is an extension of Coach Varischetti on the field. Despite the strong defense and a powerful running game, this Friday Conneaut will learn that it is the Beaver Express that imposes its will on opponents. Swami likes DuBois 46 Conneaut 31 in a balanced attack.
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