It’s the first of two straight games against each other — for one of the teams in Friday night’s Division 7 regional semifinal football game.
Lehman and Fort Recovery faced each other way back in August, and will do so again Friday in action at Lima Spartan Stadium. And when it’s over, the loser will begin preparations for next season’s opener against the same opponent.
The Cavaliers pulled off a big upset last week in the first round of the D-7 playoffs, beating the Covington Buccaneers 20-16 on the road to advance to the second round. Lehman was the No. 7 seed and Covington No. 2.
“It was a big win, and unexpected by a lot of people,” said Lehman coach Dick Roll. “We felt we could play with them, and when it was over, we felt our offensive line played as well as they have all season.”
And the Cavs needed them to. They went into the game feeling they could throw the ball against the Buccs, but they didn’t have a healthy quarterback. Roll said Stephen Monnin was sick going into the game, and throughout. As it turned out, the Cavs completed only one pass all night, but the running game made up for it.
Owen Smith rushed for 110 yards and Monnin added 96, putting him over 1,000 yards for the season. Teammate Jake Earhart, who had 54 yards rushing against the Buccs, is at 1,027 yards rushing for the season.
The Cavaliers took a pounding in the season opener at Recovery, the final score being 36-0. The Indians ended the season as the No. 3 seed in Region 26, and bring a 9-2 record into Friday’s semifinal. The only two losses this season have been to two defending state champions, Minster and Marion Local. The Minster game ended up 14-12.
“We’re going up against an excellent team,” said Roll of Recovery. “They’re definitely a program on the rise. They have quality seniors, but they are not a senior-led team.”
The Indians are led by quarterback Caleb Martin, who has hit 56 percent of his passes for 1,297 yards this season and nine touchdowns. He’s been picked off seven times.
Running back Kyle Schroer had 856 yards and 16 touchdowns going into last week’s 62-34 mauling of Miami Valley Christian in the playoff opener, and Wes Wenning 49 receptions for 688 yards and four scores.
“We have to be able to stop their counter,” said Roll. “In the first game against them, we overran it, and ran up the field too much. That’s been our Achilles heel all year. We have to be more disciplined up front and make the plays. And they have a lot of weapons.
“We’re a more confident team than we were the first game,” he added. “When we played them in the opener, we only had three guys with any varsity experience. Now those kids have a whole season under their belts. Fort Recovery has played a nightmarish schedule being in the MAC, so this gives us an opportunity to see where we’re at.”
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818