September 12, 2017

The Lebanon Warriors come to town this week, on Thursday night, as the schedule begins to toughen up for the undefeated Beavers.  Lebanon comes into the game 2-1, dropping their season opener to Kings (37-31) and then winning two straight against Loveland (21-14) and last week against Fenwick (49-21).  Beavercreek is 3-0 with wins over Xenia, Carroll, and Fairborn.  Last year, Lebanon won a close one at home over the Beavers, 27-21, scoring the game-winning touchdown with just seconds remaining.  That win helped Lebanon put together a season in which they made the playoffs as the second seed in Region 4.  Both teams have playoff goals this year, and this game could be pivotal for both.

Last year, the Beavers had difficulty containing Lebanon’s senior QB, Dakota Allen, who threw for 221 yards and two scores and was the Warriors’ leading rusher with 63 yards on the ground and another two scores.  The good news for the Beavers is that Allen has graduated and taken his talents to Eastern Kentucky; the bad news is that there is another Allen to contend with this year, junior WR Derrick Allen, Dakota’s younger brother.  Derrick has caught a touchdown pass in each of Lebanon’s first three games, has four scores on the year, and has gone over 100 yards receiving in two of the three games.  Last week, Derrick was the favorite target of junior QB Kyle Short, catching six passes for 153 yards and two TDs.  Short has thrown for 592 yards and is 5th overall in the GWOC among quarterbacks.

While Lebanon has found success through the air, they have had a difficult time running the ball, averaging just over 77 yards per game.  That would seem to bode well for the Beavers, who have been stiff against the run, allowing just 58 yards on the ground per game, 1st in the GWOC.  The Beavs have been equally as tough against the pass, yielding just 102 yards through the air per game.  Lebanon will test the Beavercreek secondary, which is full of experience with seniors Bryce Neuse, Jordan Williams, and Jake Maloney.  Last week, Neuse had back-to-back pick sixes in the third quarter to blow open a close game with Fairborn.  The Beavers will need to put some pressure on the quarterback and force Short into making quick decisions – that becomes easier if Creek can control Lebanon’s run game.

On the other side of the ball, Beavercreek is again essentially a one-dimensional offense this year, although they used a forward pass early in last week’s game to surprise Fairborn, a pass that went 44 yards for a Jake Maloney score.  Aside from the occasional pass, Beavercreek will look to pound the football up the middle with bruising senior running back Kaden Wenger, who has rushed for over 200 yards in two of the first three games and is currently second overall in the GWOC.  Beavercreek was able to run the ball last year against Lebanon and so far this year the Warrior defense is allowing over 208 yards per game (15th in the GWOC).  This has the potential of being a tough, low-scoring game that will be decided by who makes the most mistakes with the football.  So far this season, Beavercreek has a positive turnover ratio and has capitalized on forcing turnovers — scoring twice last week on defense.  A Beavercreek win would be huge in terms of positioning for the playoffs, something that has been elusive for the Beavers over the past few decades.  Last year, the final playoff spot went to 6-4 Lancaster — if the Beavs can start 4-0, even a 3-3 finish on the year would likely have them playing in week 11.  While it is too early to begin playoff speculation as we near the midpoint of the season, it is not too early to realize that this game is crucial for Beavercreek’s playoff hopes.  GO BEAVERS!