The FOX19 Friday Prep Rally tour kicks off its 2010 season as the Lebanon Warriors travel to face the Kings Knights at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
It is a tale of two teams. Lebanon is coming off a year in which they won the GWOC title and finished the regular season with only two losses. However, the team has been hit hard by graduation including the loss of quarterback Dusty Isaacs and wide receiver Chase Cochran.
Kings season got off to a bad start in 2009 when head coach Andy Olds was sidelined to start the year with a heart condition. The young Knights never got off the ground and lost seven games. Olds is healthy and last season's young team has a year of valuable varsity experience under their belts.
LEBANON WARRIORS (8-2) AT KINGS KNIGHTS (3-7)
Knights Stadium – Kings Mills, OH
7:30 p.m. kickoff
TV: LIVE Pregame Show FOX19 (6:30 – 7:00)
LISTEN ONLINE: TriStateFootball.com (broadcast begins at 7:15)
Head Coaches: Sean Lamb (Lebanon); Andy Olds (Kings)
Last Meeting: Lebanon won 45-17 over Kings in Week 1 last season
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Knights' running back Jamire Westbrook tallied 1,328 total yards in his first year as a starter at Kings and was named an Honorable Mention running back on the 2010 Preseason All-TriStateFootball.com team. Westbrook has already picked up an offer from Cincinnati with several other colleges expressing interest. For Lebanon it starts up front with tackle Nick Stotts, who was named as a Second-Team All-TriStateFootball.com offensive lineman. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder is the Warriors only returning starter on the offensive line.
Lebanon finished 2009 with an 8-2 record, including a perfect 4-0 mark in the GWOC South. The Warriors produced over 4,000 total yards of offense and nearly 33 points per game last season, but now must replace their starting quarterback and one of the area's top receivers. The team has gone 15-5 over the past two years, but has failed to make the playoffs during that span.
Kings wound up with a 3-7 record a year ago while going just 2-3 inside the FAVC Cardinal Division. The Knights put up 287 yards of total offense in '09, but allowed 323 total yards on defense. The defense returns eight starters this year and is expected to show improvement. After back-to-back Region 8 playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008, Kings failed to make the postseason last year.
KINGS' KEYS TO VICTORY
The Knights need to get Westbrook established early to help loosen things up in the passing game for the quarterback tandem of Jonny Brewsterand Jensen Gephardt. Defensively, linebacker Sean Horan and defensive end Tommy Schnee must cause havoc and force the young Warriors' line and unproven quarterback into mistakes. Kings must capitalize on their edge in experience and their home-field advantage early and prevent Lebanon from developing confidence.
LEBANON'S KEYS TO VICTORY
The young offensive line will be called upon early and often to open holes for running backs Dylan Miles and Aaron Abbott. If the duo can move the chains and control the clock, the Warriors will be able to open things up for All-GWOC South wide receiver Nick Brody. The defense must contain Westbrook and force the Knights into mistakes and come up with some turnovers. To do so they must create pressure do better than the eight sacks they produced last season.
This game will be closer than last season's lopsided match-up and given the variables, Kings should figure to have a slight advantage. Depth will be the biggest question and the team that takes better care of the football and is able to dictate the tempo will come out on top. With the best playmaker in the game in Westbrook and much more experience on their side. The Knights win by a touchdown or more.
Written by: Dan Clasgens, TriStateFootball.com