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Week 5 Scouting Report: Warren G. Harding (1-3) @ Youngstown Ursuline (4-0)

Updated: Sep 12, 2023



Raider Report:


The Raiders traveled to Akron to face the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish on Friday night. While the skyline was a beautiful sight to see, the Raiders' struggles were not as pleasing to the eye.


The Raiders took the opening drive for a touchdown, a great way to start the football game. Quarterback Drew McKowan looked the part early, hitting multiple receivers and establishing an effective passing attack in the first quarter. The defense forced a three-and-out and the Raiders looked primed for a positive showing early on within all three phases of their units.


As the game progressed, the mistakes and self-inflicted wounds that haunted the team from a season ago came back in full force. The Raiders' offense struggled to gain yardage and forced a punt back to the Fighting Irish in which they took just two plays to get into the endzone for their second touchdown of the night. After the offense stalled yet again, the Raiders went to punt the football and it was blocked for a touchdown. Heading to the locker room at the half, the Raiders were down 21-7.


In the second half the Raiders established more of an offensive presence, but it was far too late. Running back Antonio Smith looked extremely solid and was a positive force in the ground game. Smith finished with 22 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns. His offensive abilities on the ground need to continue as the season progresses. Quarterback Drew McKowan finished with 275 yards passing and 1 touchdown; he threw a total of 51 passes and completed 27 of them for a 52% completion rating.


Defensively, there were two times that Akron took only two plays to score and to score from a far out distance. Big chunk plays in the running game ended up costing the Raiders more opportunities to help get their offense back on the field late in the fourth quarter. The defense needed to make a stop several times in the fourth while it was a two possession game, and could not; that is how the night unfolded in Akron, Ohio.


Ultimately, as the Raiders look to build upon their struggles, the test does not get any easier this week versus an undefeated Youngstown Ursuline football team (4-0). Ursuline has the hot hand and has not allowed a single touchdown or score in their last two games. They have outscored opponents 120-35 on the season, or 96-0 in their last two matchups.


Ursuline Report:


Youngstown Ursuline is 4-0 on the season and the athletes, community, and coaches continue to have high goals and aspirations each year as long as their head coach Dan Reardon leads the program. Reardon is a proven winner at Ursuline and since coming back to the program in 2019, he has posted a 34-18 record, heading to the State Championship in 2021, only to lose in the fourth quarter after leading by 21-points.


While every high school team wants to reach the OHSAA State Championship game at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio, Ursuline has the weapons on offense, defense, and special teams to do so. As the Raiders will visit Stambaugh Stadium, home of the Penguins and the home playing field of the Ursuline Fighting Irish, the Raiders have plans to instill their dominant presence that we have seen in flashes throughout this 2023 season.


Ursuline Offense:


After losing four offensive lineman to graduation from a season ago, Ursuline's offense as a whole has been quite explosive. Running back Christian Lynch is back for his senior season. Lynch received multiple college offers due to his ability on and off the football field. He has decided that he would like to take his academics along with his athletic ability to the prestigious Princeton University next fall.


Lynch is not the only offensive weapon that Ursuline has but he is one that the Raiders know extremely well. Last season Lynch rushed on 20 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry and is a physical running back that can make plays both in the running and even the passing game.


Quarterback Jack Ericson is back for his senior campaign and last season Ericson completed 17 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns versus the Raiders in week 5. Ericson has leading receiver from a season ago, DC Ferrell back. Ferrell finished his sophomore and first season with Ursuline with 52 receptions for 779 yards. This does not include the rushing yards and even passing yards and touchdowns that he accumulated. He is a threat in all phases of the game, especially when he is given some room to run and can make athletes miss in space.


While the big three are Ericson, Lynch and Ferrell, look for other athletes to step up and make plays as Ursuline does a great job getting their athletes in the right situations. Offensively, Ursuline likes to jet their receivers, or even motions them in a variety of ways. One way is orbit motioning them behind the running back and to run a quick bubble to them. The goal of this is to make an easy throw for their quarterback and to give their receivers the ability to make defenders miss and gain yards after the catch (YAC). If Ursuline does not throw the orbit motion to the wide receiver, they are going to run the ball right behind it. Window dressing is what it is called and it makes a defense stay sound throughout the entire play.


Ursuline Defense:


Last week against Youngstown East, Ursuline intercepted the football multiple times, one being a pick-six. Both interceptions early on in the contest were off tipped passes and by Ursuline defensive back CJ Frasco. Ursuline will continue to apply consistent pressure from their defensive front and play cover 3 behind it. At times they will bring blitzes to disrupt the opposing quarterbacks like every team does in football, but really they like to keep the defense simple. While keeping it simple for their athletes, it makes them play fast and physical, not thinking about their job but just executing it.


Ursuline's defense has posted a shutout in two football games this season. That is an impressive feat as not many high school teams in the area have done that this year, let alone twice. Look for the Ursuline Fighting Irish to continue to dominate and apply pressure to Harding quarterback Drew McKowan. While McKowan had his up and down moments from the previous game versus St. Vincent-St. Mary, one thing is for certain, Ursuline will try to confuse him early and often with their defensive blitzes and potentially on their back end in the secondary.


Another coverage that Ursuline plays is cover 1. They essentially are a one high football team. Their defensive front is multiple and they are very happy with the pressure they get when they decide to go into their 3-3 defensive front look. The linebackers fill extremely well and their secondary are ballhawks and understand the philosophy of deeper than the deepest and splitting the two receivers if both push you vertical while in cover 3. Overall, there is a reason that they have allowed zero points to be scored in their last two contests.


Wrap Up:


The Raiders are in a must win situation and do not want to endure another loss this week at Stambaugh Stadium. Getting back in the winning column will take focus, determination, and a will to want to get better. If the Raiders have a solid week of practice and can get their offensive struggles fixed, the defense will be able to apply pressure on Ericson and company and turnovers will ensue.


The biggest thing for the Raiders defensively is to stop the running game. There have been too many times this season (McKinley week one and St. V's week 4) that the defensive lineman for Harding have been getting washed down and/ or the linebackers are not filling properly. If the athletes can fix these two focal points on defense, it will help the defensive struggles as of late. Overall, as we head into week 5 and are at the halfway point of the season, the Raiders are in a dire must win mode and this week should begin the trend in the right direction.


At a Glance:


Warren Harding Raiders


Head Coach: Steven Arnold

Record: 65-56 (1-3 - 2023)

Years as HC: 12

Record Last Year: 2-8

League: All-American Conference

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4, Multiple


Schedule:


Aug. 18 - Canton McKinley - Loss - 14-33

Aug. 26 - at Akron Buchtel - Win - 20-16

Sept. 1 - Farrell - Loss - 17-24

Sept. 8 - at St. Vincent St. Mary - Loss - 28-42

Sept. 15 - at Ursuline

Sept. 22 - Chaney

Sept. 29 - Boardman

Oct. 6 - at Cardinal Mooney

Oct. 13 - at Massillon

Oct. 20 - Austintown Fitch


Record: 1-3


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Ursuline Irish


Head Coach: Dan Reardon

Record: 34-18 (Second Stint Only, Includes 4-0 this season)

Years as HC: 13

Record Last Year: 10-3 (2-1 in OHSAA Playoffs)

Offense: Spread

Defense: Multiple - 3-3, 3-4, etc.


Schedule:


Aug. 17 - Steubenville - Win - 36-28

Aug. 25 - at Padua Franciscan - Win - 38-7

Sept. 1 - Lakeside - Win - 50-0

Sept. 8 - at Youngstown East - Win - 46-0

Sept. 15 - Warren G. Harding

Sept. 22 - at Austintown Fitch

Sept. 29 - at St. Vincent- St. Mary

Oct. 6 - Villa Angela-St. Joseph

Oct. 13 - Chaney

Oct. 20 - Cardinal Mooney


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Record: 4-0


Game Details:


The Raiders will face off against Youngstown Ursuline on Friday, September 15th at 7:00 p.m at Youngstown State University (Stambaugh Stadium).


Tickets:


Sold at the gate and/ or through Youngstown Ursuline's athletic website.

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