Week 2 of the the high school football season is upon us, and with it brings more intriguing match ups. In the Cleveland area, two perennial playoff teams will square off with potential playoff points on the line. It can really be labeled a must win game for both teams:
Solon and Glenville
How can a Week 2 game be labeled a "must win" game?
Let's look and see how this game effects both teams:
Glenville.... The Tarblooders seem to be labeled by pundits around the state as the favorite in the newly aligned Division II in the state of Ohio. Division I playoff participants on a regular basis, Glenville usually plays a brutal non-conference schedule. By winning two of those games, it gives the Tarblooders enough playoff points to qualify for the state playoffs. Glenville plays in the Senate League, one of the weakest conferences in the state. Running through the conference each year really doesn't do much for the Tarblooders playoff rankings. They bank on beating their non-conference foes, collecting points by THOSE teams winning games, and qualify based that criteria. The problem here is that Glenvillle already lost one game. They fell to St. Edward last week 40-24. Losing another game will almost cripple their playoff chances.
Solon.... The Comets are coming off their worst season in almost fifteen years, going 5-5 in 2012. They are perennial playoff qualifiers, making the playoffs in ten of the last twelve years. Solon got off to a good start last week, defeating Kenston 48-21. Why is this game important for Solon? Yes, for playoff points, but there is also the matter of Solon's schedule. Contrary to Glenville, Solon plays in one of the toughest conferences in the state, the Northeast Ohio Conference. With teams like Mentor, Brunswick, Twinsburg, and Hudson still left to play, the Comets need to rack up as many wins as they can. The idea of them running the table and beating all those teams is a bit unrealistic.
So who wins?
Glenville wins if.... They take care of the ball. The Tarblooders had four turnovers in their loss to St. Edward, leading to 21 points given up. Second, they are as sound as they can be in the kicking game. Never a strong suit for Glenville, they had a punt blocked last week, which led to a short St. Edward touchdown drive. Third, they eliminate penalties. No team is going to win a game against a quality opponent while committing 14 penalties. Fourth, they let the stars shine. Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith are two of the top ten players in the state. Glenville just has to let the two of them have an impact on the game, and they will come out victorious.
Solon wins if.... They are opportunistic. They need all the luck they can get, after losing to Glenville last year 40-17. They need to make their own luck. Block a punt, a surprise onside kick, or trick plays. Second, they need to keep the Glenville offense off the field. By sustaining long drives, they shorten the game, and make Lattimore and Smith have less of an impact on the game. Third, they need big games from running back Antwain Hamilton, and an efficient game from quarterback Ryan Gallagher. Take what the defense gives you, and don't get greedy. Fourth, no turnovers. Any team that turns the ball over against Glenville is playing with fire. Lastly, they need to tackle. Glenville is talented enough without giving up extra yardage.
Prediction.... Stewart Field in Solon will be rocking, giving the home team a big boost. There will be a "blue out" in the home stands. If only some of those fans could play in the game. Solon will hang tough for a while, but Glenville is just too big, too strong, and too fast. Eventually Smith and Lattimore will make a big play, and the size of Glenville will wear Solon down. Glenville's playoff chances remain alive, while Solon will then almost have to run the table in the conference.
Glenville 35, Solon 14