Newcomerstown at Strasburg
Following a near-miss against undefeated Malvern last week, the Newcomerstown Trojans look to rebound as they visit the Strasburg Tigers in an Inter-Valley Conference contest Friday.
Newcomerstown (2-3, 0-2 IVC) battled back the second half against Malvern, scoring a late touchdown but the two-point conversion to tie came up short resulting in a disappointing 29-27 loss. Strasburg (1-4, 0-2 IVC) is smarting from a 61-0 blasting by Tuscarawas Central Catholic last week.
Senior quarterback Caleb Rankin is a key to the Tojans' pistol-apread option offense. He leads the team in both rushing (44-for-253, four TDs) and passing (48-of-83 for 589 yards, five TDs). Senior running back Josh Miller has 220 yards on 72 carries and junior wide receiver Serafin Sanchez has 14 catches for 234 yards and two TD.
"Rankin is getting better each week," NHS coach Eric Brock pointed out. "He ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more against Malvern. We have to have him make good decisions about when to use his legs and when to use his arm. We look to spread it out and utilize Rankin's athletic ability, but would like to keep a balance between the run and pass. Sanchez is also an excellent defensive back as well as a receiver.
"Strasburg is improved from last year and we are going to prepare for them very cautiously," Brock added. "We gained confidence last week with the comeback and that can be a big plus heading into the second half of the year."
Junior Austin Hostetler runs the Strasburg offense and the main runner is sophomore I-Back Hunter Schneiter. Hostetler's main targets have been juniors Drew Kuecher and Matt Bender and sophomore Ryan Froman.
"Their offense is very similar to ours," Brock stated. "Schneiter is much like Maurice Johnson that we faced last week. He is not real big, but is fast. We hope to slow him down and force them to put the ball in some other kids' hands. Hostetler is a threat to throw, but is not real experienced and the key is to put some pressure on him."