Linsly, River meet in pivotal OVAC 2A clash

HANNIBAL — Linsly is on a roll.

The Cadets have won six straight games since dropping their opener at Ohio small-school power Mogadore. As a result, Coach B.J. Depew’s charges sit comfortably atop the OVAC 2A standings.

After impressive wins over Wheeling Central and Western Reserve in its last two starts, Linsly will again face another stern challenge this Friday. The Cadets travel to Monroe County where the potent River Pilots await.

“I am really pleased with the work everyone in this program is doing, from the players to the coaches to our trainers. It really is a team effort and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. On the field, the kids are playing hard-nosed aggressive football,” Depew said. “At the same time, they are also playing very smart and they are doing a great job executing the game plan. The last two weeks have been big steps forward for us and they did a lot to put to rest the feelings from last year when we lost close games to those same two opponents.

Coach Mike Flannery’s Rivermen are 4-3, all three losses coming to heavyweights — Shenandoah, Meadowbrook and Shadyside. The Lukas Isaly-led Pilots are coming off a 62-20 shellacking of Bridgeport.

Isaly accounted for five TDs in the Bulldog blowout, three by air and two on the ground. For the season, the two-time first-team all-Ohioan has completed 70-of-133 tosses for 879 yards and 10 TDs. The dual-threat quarterback is just as lethal with his feet, rushing 146 times for 851 stripes for 14 more six-pointers.

His top complement on the ground is Drew Wagnild. The 200-pound senior has rushed for 502 stripes with four TDs.

Isaly’s favorite targets are senior Drew Dietz and freshman dandy Michael Johnson. Dietz has landed 29 passes for 414 stripes and six TDs while Johnson has hauled in 13 for 209 yards.

“River is a good football team and Lukas Isaly is the best overall athlete we have seen so far. To watch Isaly live and on film, it is easy to see how he has earned so many accolades up to this point in his career,” Depew said. “Coach Flannery has put together an offense that gives defenses a lot to look at and a lot to prepare for.”

Linsly, meanwhile, has been operating successfully utilizing two quarterbacks in senior Luke Mueller and junior Wyatt Hirt. Mueller has completed 51-of-86 throws for 600 yards and three TDs while Hirt has clicked on 29-of-58 aerials for 533 stripes and five TDs.

The Cadets also possess an effective ground game, spearheaded by Eli Petho. The bullish junior has rushed 65 times for 508 yards and six TDs. He exploded for 142 yards and three TDs in Saturday’s pasting of Western Reserve.

Nick Falbo is another ground threat. The talented senior has garnered 304 yards on 35 totes and seven TDs. Trevin Tush brings big-play capability to the Cadets’ receiving corp. The dynamic sophomore has caught 22 passes for 328 yards and four TDs. Petho has snared 10 passes for 132 yards and a six-pointer.

“We need to find creative ways to counter their physicality. I have seen them three times and yet to find a weakness,” Flannery said.

“Their defense is relentless in pursuit of the ball and they have so many playmakers. Their quarterbacks do a great job of managing the game, getting the ball out quickly. We need to know where Petho and Falbo are at all times,” he added. “The one thing I know for sure is our players have tenacious resiliency. We will be prepared.”

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