At the game this Friday, the 1972 AAA State Champion Warren Western Reserve Raiders will be honored for their outstanding accomplishments. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at Mollenkopf Stadium.
1972 Playoff Record: (2-0)
vs. Toledo Scott - 23-15 - W
vs. Cincinnati Princeton - 37-6 - W
All Time Coach Record:
Phil Annarella: 59-30-2 - 1981-1989
Don Charlton: 36-14 - 1976-1980
Dick Strahm: 32-8 - 1966-1969
Joe Novak: 23-1 - 1972-1973 - State Champs
Jim Hilles: 17-3 - 1970-1971
Harry Beers: 15-5 - 1974-1975
Thank you to all of the individuals who made Warren Football what it is today. Congratulations on your accomplishments and my deepest condolences to those who have passed. May your memories last forever.
Now we are going to discuss the matchup between Warren G. Harding and the Ursuline Fighting Irish.
You could not ask for a better start for the Raiders on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, Ohio. The Raiders deferred the kickoff and the defense was ready to tame the Tigers. After just seven offensive plays, Massillon punted the football and set up a decent field for the Raiders offense. Last week, quarterback Dalys Jett was on the injury report and sophomore quarterback Drew McKowan played a decent game against the Hudson Explorers. This week, Jett was back under center and had his eyes set on multiple trips to the end zone.
To begin the first offensive drive, the Raiders had a false start that backed them up five yards. It is now 1st and 15 and the offense is already behind the sticks. The next play, Jett could not handle the snap and fell on it for a massive loss. It is now 2nd and 23 and the Raiders call a quick now with their 'Z' receiver Devin Boss. The gain is very minimal. The drive began with two self-inflicting wounds, a consistent theme for the Raiders this season. Finally, on third down and forever (3rd and 22 +), Dalys Jett takes the snap, hesitates for a quick second before exploding on a Q-Draw for a 78-yard touchdown, stunning Tiger Nation at Paul Brown Stadium.
You could not ask for a better start defensively then to be able to score offensively first against a stout opponent. This was everything the Raiders needed to build momentum and have a fierce battle between a hard fought rival. Then... the self-inflicted wounds and mistakes were highlighted and the Raiders ended up losing 41-12 dropping their record after four weeks to 1-3.
While the scoreboard shows a decent beating of the Raiders, the touchdowns from the Massillon Tigers came from mistakes and busted coverages and assignments from the secondary. On the first touchdown, Massillon sophomore quarterback Jalen Slaughter threw a 34-yard touchdown to tight end Nolan Davenport, who was uncovered in the middle of the defense. Later in the drive, Slaughter finds Ardell Banks on a slant for a 50+ yard touchdown and that was due to a misassignment from the cornerback position. The last big 50+ yard touchdown from Slaughter came with 3:31 left in the second quarter where he threw right down the middle of the defense on a vertical switch concept. Harding's cornerback and safety reversed their assignments on mistake, resulting in the touchdown putting the Raiders down 20-6 in a quick fashion.
While the mistakes continue to haunt this team, there are several bright spots to look forward to. Junior receiver Nau'Jeat Jones is having a fantastic season for Harding and continues to make big plays in the passing game. Jones had 4 receptions for 62-yards and 1 touchdown (15.5 average). Senior receiver Jacob Lawrence, an athlete who is new to the game of football, had two receptions for 40 yards and what could have been a toe-tapping touchdown; however, the refs ruled him out of bounds. Look for the Raiders to continue to increase their passing attack versus an Ursuline secondary that has struggled in recent weeks.
Harding's Plan for Ursuline:
The playoffs start now. They truly do for the Warren G. Harding Raiders and the entire community of Warren, Ohio. These athletes have played four hard fought games and four extremely competitive and well-coached opponents. The question of whether or not some of these younger sophomores can play at the varsity level is over with. Four games which equals four weeks of varsity experience. There is no more time to question the younger athletes on offense, defense or special teams. The time is for this team to continue to work on their craft and to take the positives week in and week out.
The plan heading into Friday night's historical matchup between a tough, well-coached, and State Runner Up Ursuline Irish football team is for the Raiders to exploit the Irish's secondary and for the Harding Raiders to continue to press the advantage when throwing the football. Dalys Jett will be a key component this game as he looks to bounce back from a roller coaster of a performance against Massillon that had him at times looking comfortable and calm in the pocket and other times running for his life and making impromptu plays.
The running game continues to not find its identity and the plan heading into Ursuline week is to find what works and continue to do it at a high level. The passing game and quarterback Dalys Jett will be the matchup to watch for this week.
After last week's bout versus Austintown Fitch, the new mantra for the Ursuline Fighting Irish is to continue to fight. After being down 35-7, the Irish fought back to make it a one possession game with seconds left in the fourth quarter. The game came down to an onside kick. Grit, determination, and fight is what the Irish displayed after starting the game with their own self-inflicted wounds, a theme the Raiders need to wash away to make this matchup a close one in the fourth quarter.
The Irish utilize an offensive game plan that is predicated on establishing the running game and using their big offensive lineman to open up lanes for running back Christian Lynch. The junior tailback is 5'-10" and 180 pounds but at times acts like Marshawn Lynch, the former Seattle Seahawks Superbowl Winning running back with his hard fought and physical running mentality. Same last name, no relation, but the way they both play the position is eerily familiar. Two weeks ago against Farrell, Lynch rushed for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns on 44 carries. Lynch will be one of the main offensive weapons that the Raiders' defensive front and entire defense will look to stop.
As for the quarterback position, Jack Ericson has stepped up the plate and has had a successful junior campaign. The 6'-2" 170 pound signal caller sat behind Brady Shannon the last few years and has been very patient while also being a student of the game. Ericson is a dual threat quarterback who can not only throw the football, but also run it as well. He is yet another offensive weapon the Raiders will need to prevent from having a big day.
The last offensive position group I want to discuss is the offensive line. Without their size and strength, running back Christian Lynch would not be as successful as he has been. Not only that, the offensive line has several players who play on the defensive line and that is an entirely different breed of football. Senior lineman Isaac Lucas is a monstrous athlete who can disrupt a football game. He sits at 6'4" and is 280 pounds. Senior Michael Branch is 6'0" and 285 pounds. But wait... there's more. Senior Brian Frasco is 6'3" and 290 pounds and is in the mix as well. These three lineman play a vital role on both the offensive and defensive side of the football. Stopping them in any way will be a big win for the Raiders come Friday night.
Lastly, on the defensive side of the football, the strength is in the trenches with Lucas, Branch and Frasco leading the way with a secondary that struggles at times. If the defensive line can get pressure on the quarterback, the secondary will create turnovers due to their athleticism. If the defensive line struggles and the opposing quarterback has any time to throw the football, the receivers will most likely make big plays against the Irish's secondary.
Ursuline plays mainly man-to-man with a one high look (cover 1). However, they do switch it at times and go cover 3 but are still in their one high safety look. Rotating the safeties and or playing down closer to the box (where the linebackers are), is another way the Fighting Irish mix and play around with their secondary, trying to confuse opposing quarterbacks any way they can.
Matchup to Watch: Harding's WR's versus Ursuline's Secondary
Each week I highlight a matchup to watch that will most likely be the difference-maker on Friday night. Last week, I had the Massillon Tigers' stout defensive line versus the Raiders' offensive line and running backs in the blitz pickup department. The Tigers sacked Jett numerous times, and forced him to throw errant passes at times. The matchup certainly won the Tigers their third game of the season (3-1).
This week, the Ursuline Fighting Irish come into town with a defense that is averaging 40 points per game in the last two weeks. The Irish played a very physical and fast Farrell Pennsylvania football team and won by a margin of two points (40-38). Their special teams allowed two kickoff returns and their defense had several mistakes, resulting in touchdowns. Last week at the Ice Castle, the Irish were losing 35-7 heading into the fourth quarter to the Austintown Fitch Falcons but stormed back to make it a one possession game with seconds left in the fourth quarter. Allowing 42 points is never the plan defensively, even if the opponent is off to a 4-0 start and is outscoring opponents by a large margin.
Look for the Raiders to exploit and or use matchups/ route combinations to free up their receivers on a secondary that has played man-to-man (cover 1) a good majority of the game last week. Nau'Jeat Jones, Devin Boss, Jacob Lawrence and Airiz Coleman-Bey will need to have a great week of practice with intense focus to be able to continue to perfect their route-running abilities.
It will be extremely important for the Raiders to not only start fast, but to also prevent the self-inflicting wounds from showing up. If the Raiders can handle the snaps, throw the ball out quickly, establish a running game that is even four yards per carry, and then prevent Christian Lynch from taking over, the Raiders will have a shot this Friday night. It will be a huge task but if you know the City of Warren and the student athletes, you know they will be up for the challenge.
At a Glance:
Warren Harding Raiders
Head Coach: Steven Arnold
Record: 63-48 (Includes 1-3 this Season)
Years as HC: 11
Record Last Year: 5-6
Defense: 3-4, 4-3
Aug. 19 at Medina - Loss - 10-33
Aug. 26 vs Buchtel - Won - 14-7
Sept. 2 vs Hudson - Loss - 7-21
Sept. 9 at Massillon - Loss - 12-41
Sept. 16 vs Ursuline
Sept. 23 at St. Vincent-St. Mary
Sept. 30 at Boardman
Oct. 7 vs Mooney
Oct. 14 at Chaney
Oct. 21 at Fitch
Head Coach: Dan Reardon
Record: 95-45 (Two Separate Stints, Includes 3-1 this season)
Years as HC: 12
Record Last Year: 11-4 (2-0) T-1st Place in SVC
Defense: 4-2 (Cover 1 and 3)
August 18th - Brookfield - W - 52-14
August 26th - Padua Franciscan - W - 51-6
September 3rd at Farrell - W - 40-38
September 9th - Fitch - L - 42-34
September 16th at Harding
September 24th at Chaney
September 30th - St. Vincent-St. Mary
October 7th at Boardman
October 14th - East
October 21st - Mooney
The Raiders will face off against the Ursuline Irish on Friday, September 16th 7 p.m. at Mollenkopf Stadium.
Special Event Notice: Arrive before 6:30 to witness the 1972 State Champion Warren Western Reserve Ceremony.
Ticket Information: Tickets are sold online. We are not affiliated with the school and can not change the policy. Make sure to head to this link (https://wghathletics.org/event-tickets) and buy tickets ahead of time. There will be none sold at the gate.