At this point in the football season, going into the second round of the playoffs, every game is tough. That will likely be the case this week when Archbold battles Marion Pleasant Friday night in the Division V, Region 18 semifinal at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium.
What could make it even more of a struggle for the Blue Streaks is the fact they will be without their leader and starting quarterback, Gabe Petersen. He injured his left knee in the opening-round win over Indian Lake last Friday and is done for the season.
“Obviously, this is a blow to our team as he was the leader of our offense all season long,” said Archbold coach David Dominique. “With that being said, we have prepared for a situation like this and we will need others to step up much like we did on Friday following his injury.”
Enter twin brother Sam Petersen, who as Dominique alluded to, helped the Streaks hold off Indian Lake when he took over midway through the third quarter.
Through 11 games at his running back position, Sam Petersen is the team’s second leading rusher behind his brother with 987 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, they will be down a threat on offense with the loss of Gabe.
The Streaks will have to establish a running game this Friday, but it won’t come without its challenges.
In the regular season, the Pleasant defense allowed less than 430 yards rushing and no TDs. The Spartans are also coming off a convincing 48-21 opening-round win over a quality Genoa team.
“It is quite obvious that Marion Pleasant has a very good front seven on defense that has shown all year long their ability to shut down the run,” said Dominique. “We do rely heavily on the run so (we) must find ways to get them moved off of the ball in order to open running lanes for our backs. The big thing for us is that we will need to match their physicality in order to be successful on Friday night.”
Pleasant’s leader on that side of the ball is senior Matt Chase, who in the regular season totaled 108 tackles, 23 for loss, and eight sacks.
Switching to offense, the Spartans are led on the ground by a pair of rushers.
Chase finished the regular season, which was only nine games for the Spartans as their first game was cancelled, with 1,138 yards rushing and eight TDs. Sophomore tailback Patrick Blubaugh had one more TD (9) than Chase, to go along with 730 yards on the ground.
In addition, Junior Bryce Lowry added 460 yards and five scores.
The Streaks should be able to limit the Spartan passing attack. Quarterback Ethan Warner completed just 50 percent (25 of 50) of his passes during the regular season for 416 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.
“As any big game, the team that controls the line of scrimmage will come out on top,” said Dominique on the keys to victory for his team. “We need to continue to improve this week in these regards in order to attain success on Friday night. Some other keys to success will be our ability to get their backs to the ground and limit the yards after contact.”
The winner between Archbold and Pleasant will face Eastwood or Otsego next week in the regional final.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010