MECHANICSBURG – Mechanicsburg has had an unbelievable football season. The Indians have activated the running clock in all 12 of their games this season – holding second-half leads of 30-plus points in every contest.
That streak will almost certainly end Saturday night against four-time defending state champion Marion Local. In fact, the Indians’ 12-game winning streak might come to an end.
But M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest and his boys aren’t ready to go quietly into the night.
“It’s going to be a battle of wills out there. It’s going to be a great game and I’m very excited,” Forrest said.
The Flyers are coming off a 34-0 dismantling of Mechanicsburg’s conference rival West Liberty-Salem, the same team the Indians blanked 44-0 earlier in the year. Marion Local was all over the field in that game, with the defense again and again denying the Tigers’ offense.
“They’re extremely athletic and they’re very, very aggressive. They love to blitz,” Forrest said. “They love to get after you. And they have a great group of athletes.”
That’s not intimidating the unbeaten Indians, who have plenty of talented athletes on the roster themselves.
“I think that we’re very, very different from most teams they play – and most teams in general,” Forrest said.
Mechanicsburg uses its tight ends and wing players to create extra gaps and mismatches. A tight end who can block and catch the football can take two opponents out of the play, for instance – the player he’s blocking and the player assigned to cover him in case he releases into a route. That’s a luxury the Indians have. It creates a numbers advantage.
“It causes a lot of trouble for teams that are aggressive,” Forrest said.
The Indians’ offense is designed to get the players in one-on-one situations where they can thrive. Whether it be Kaleb Romero, Phil Cook, Wade Smiddy, Jacob Bowers, David Harvey, Bobby Welch or any other of the Indians’ skilled ball handlers, Forrest likes his chances with his guys one-on-one.
On the other side of the ball, M’burg swarms to the ball and plays fundamental, non-flashy defense. They play fast. They play aggressively. And they do it with confidence because they know their offense is going to put up points. The units work together and feed off one another.
“We know our defense is going to go out there and play their tails off,” Forrest confirmed. “And that gives our offense a lot of confidence.”
Second-seeded Mechanicsburg will try to knock off top-seeded Marion Local (11-1) in the Division VI, Region 22 final at Bellefontaine on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The winner will have the inside track to a state championship, with this game possibly the most difficult either will face.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller