UC, Eagles on common ground with ball-control offensive style

UC, Eagles on common ground with ball-control offensive style
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Josh Fronabarger has made a pre-game guarantee.
However, it has nothing to do with who will win.
“If the halftime doesn’t go too long, I promise it’ll be over by 8:45,” the West Carroll head coach joked when previewing Friday’s Union City-WC Class 1A state quarterfinal game.
The light-hearted nature of Fronabarger’s projection has more to do with the two teams’ similar style and philosophies than whatever the ultimate margin might be.
In an era of wide-open, spread offenses, both the Tornadoes and War Eagles could best be described as “throwback” teams.
Each passes only begrudgingly, choosing instead to run the ball mostly between the tackles in tight alignments with occasional sweeps and/or option pitches around the end.
Success largely depends on the effectiveness of both clubs’ offensive lines with physicality at a premium and of utmost importance.
And with no regular stoppage of the game clock because of that particular style and few throwing attempts, games tend to be especially shorter.
“I believe in running the football. It’s my philosophy and I think that gives our team the best chance at winning,” said Fronabarger, whose 7-4 club did not attempt a single pass last week but hammered Gleason 35-14 anyway. “I believe in being physical, and I think teams who win the line of scrimmage win most every game.
“And I think if you’ll look around, the four teams left on this side of the state in single-A are ones who run the football and have run it well.”
Like Union City, which centers its midline/veer offense around fullback Keylon Hyde (1,651 yards, 14 TDs), West Carroll — which operates out of a hybrid Wing-T scheme — depends heavily on hard-charging Carson Suite, who has rushed for over 1,100 yards and eight scores.
Suite went over 1,000 yards last week with 122 against Gleason and had two touchdowns.
Where the Tornadoes can attack the edges with the skills of fleet-footed Khiry Lewis, who had a monster game last week with TDs rushing, receiving and as a kick returner in UC’s stirring comeback triumph over Lake County, the War Eagles have sophomore wingback Jacob Glenn, who scored three times vs. the Bulldogs and has nearly 500 yards both as a runner and receiver on the rare occasions when Fronabarger opts to throw.
Junior signal-caller Jamal Glenn is obviously more accomplished and better-suited at running with the pigskin as evidenced by his 120 yards rushing last week that pushed him to 655 for the season. Glenn can throw when needed, though, or when there’s absolutely no other option as his coach laughed.
Fronabarger admitted, too, he’s looking forward to facing a team with similar principles in UC (6-6), which has gotten a handle on the turnover issues that plagued them all season the past two weeks in grinding out the aforementioned Round 2 victory over Lake County after dispatching Memphis Academy of Health Sciences.
“Union City has a good football team, and even though you know what they’re going to do and don’t have to worry about defending all that spread stuff and passing, they’re tough to stop,” the WC coach insisted. “We’re obviously a lot alike in our styles, so it’ll come down to execution and which team makes the fewest mistakes.
“And, in my opinion, I think that’s what all games come down to at this time of the year — who can run the football, who can stop the other from running it and forcing turnovers.”
For his part, Tornado head coach Darren Bowling is thrilled to look across the field and see a coach who shares his long-stated philosophy.
“I believe this is the way football was meant to be played,” said Bowling, whose club passes only six times per-game on average, yet has rushed for nearly 260 yards each time out on average. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both us and West Carroll and Huntingdon and Wayne County, too, are all still playing and we all still run the football the way we do.
“It’s inspiring to me to be preparing for someone who has the same thoughts and convictions.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The postgame festivities likely will start a short time later.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 11.17.11

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