October 14, 2015

The Beavers travel to Centerville on Friday for a pivotal matchup with the Elks in a game that has playoff implications.  For the Elks (4-3, 2-0 GWOC), another loss would all but eliminate them from the Division I playoff race, as they currently sit at 18th in the playoff standings (top 16 advance).  Similarly, the Beavers are trying to continue a run this season that has them on track to make the D-1 playoffs for the first time as a GWOC member.  Beavercreek (6-1, 2-0 GWOC) is 14th in the playoff rankings.  The Beavers have been solid on the road, winning their last two road games at Columbus Bishop Hartley and Springfield by rallying for last-second wins.  The Beavers are a perfect 4-0 this season on the road.

Centerville has won the past two meetings after the Beavers stunned the Elks in 2012 with a 27-21 win at home.  Beavercreek nearly made it two straight over the Elks with a close 31-29 loss at Centerville the following year.  Last year, Centerville brought a senior-laden team into Beavercreek and rolled the Beavers 48-14 en route to an undefeated regular season.  The Elks, the top seed in the D-1 Region 2 playoffs, lost in their opening round game to 16th seeded Lakota West, 21-15.

During the offseason, the Elks added some offensive firepower with transfers Jacob Harrison (Sr. QB) and Tyler Traylor (Sr. WR/DB), both transfers from Chaminade Julienne.  Harrison, a three-year starter at CJ, has been impressive so far, passing for 1,780 yards and adding another 622 yards rushing.  The Centerville offense has been nearly unstoppable this year under second-year coach Rodney Roberts.  The Elks are averaging 446 yards and 44.4 points per game.  But as impressive as Centerville has been on offense, they have been equally unimpressive on defense, with the league’s worst-rated defense allowing 502 yards and 38.4 points per game.  The Elks yield over 316 yards per game on the ground, which is good news for Beavercreek, one of the league’s best rushing offenses.  The Beavers run for 287 yards on the ground per game, and average 25.3 points per contest.  Tim Bradshaw leads the rushing attack with 1,026 yards on the season.  In last week’s 31-28 win over Springfield, Bradshaw was held below 100 yards for the first time this season, finishing with 92 yards and 2 scores in the game.  In addition to Bradshaw, the Beavers have outside running threats in Justin Terrell and Stone Kincer, and senior QB Hunter Maloney is the Beavers’ second-leading rusher with 397 yards.

KEYS TO THE GAME: This one could be a high-scoring slugfest.  The Beavers’ defense has been good against the pass this season and has been able to put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  But the Beavers haven’t faced a quarterback like Harrison, who can hurt you with both his arm and his legs.  The Beavers will need to contain Harrison and try to limit Centerville possessions by playing ball control and eating the clock with long running drives.  If the Centerville defense struggles to stop the rush, the Beavers should be able to control the clock and put some pressure on the Elks, especially if the Beavers can steal a possession through an onside kick or two.  Beavers’ safety Julian Linkhart could be a key on defense.  The junior has shown an ability to make big plays and will certainly have some opportunities this week, along with fellow junior CB Jack Kowalski.  Linkhart also scored on a 90-yard kickoff return and set up another score with a long return to set up a first and goal.  If defense wins game, then the Beavers should have a chance to win at Centerville, something that hasn’t been done for a long time.  Go Beavers!