LaBrae defense out to stop run

As the high school football playoffs begin, opponents get better and games get tighter. Or, you can just shut out your opponent, and move on to the next round.

That is exactly what LaBrae did, defeating Wickliffe, 21-0, to advance to a Division V, Region 17 regional semifinal against Akron Manchester on Saturday at Louisville High School.

“I think that it starts with a good gameplan,” LaBrae coach John Armeni said. “I thought that our gameplan was really good. I think that our kids were pretty hungry to make a statement. They wanted to start off on the right foot. I think that is what we brought to the table.”

Leading the defensive charge was Benton Tennant, who had four interceptions last week. The Vikings (10-1) ended the night with a total of five interceptions, wich allowed for the defense to blank the Blue Devils.

“Benton Tennant is a ballhawk back there,” Armeni said. “Our gameplan is always to take teams to the air, and make them throw. I think that we have several good defensive backs back there. Stop the run first, force it to the air, and let those guys go chase the ball down in the air. That is exactly how it played out (last) Saturday night.”

LaBrae will be going up against a run heavy offense in Manchester (8-3). The Panthers are averaging nearly 350 yards rushing per game, and have two backs that have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. The leader of the pack is junior running back Ethan Wright, who has over 2,000 yards on the ground. Hunter Foster is also over 1,000 yards.

“Obviously, they are a well-coached, physical team with some pretty special athletes,” Armeni said. “They present some good challenges for us, but like I said, I think that our strength is when teams come right at us. I think that is what Manchester does, so I think that it is a strength versus a strength.

“I think that there are going to be some plays that that kid (Wright) makes that are plays that he has the ability to make. I think that for the most part, if we go in and try to stop the run and chase them to the air, it is to our strength.”

Despite the challenge, the Vikings intend on putting their names in the record books at LaBrae.

“We expect to be 2-0,” Armeni said. “I think that we have an experienced group, guys that touched the playoffs when they were a freshman and sophomore, and they are hungry. They are hungry to leave their mark, they are hungry to move forward and do some things we have never done here before.

“We have never had a playoff team win two games at LaBrae.”