In what seemed like a must-win scenario on Friday night, the Raiders led 17-0 at halftime versus an emotional and physically tough Cardinal Mooney football team. Coming out of the half, the Raiders struggled in the offensive department. Mooney's half-time adjustment was to go double tight and run counter to the boundary. With their physical approach, Mooney rallied in the second half of the game and erased the 17-point deficit by scoring 26 unanswered points. Emotion, grit, a slew of injuries, and non-execution from the Raiders all played into the loss.
Even though the Raiders are sitting at a 2-6 record on the season, there is still hope to make the playoffs. If the Raiders win on Friday night against the Chaney Cowboys, the mathematical computer system projects a 99% probability to make the playoffs. If the Raiders lose and are sitting at 2-7, they can still make the playoffs with a win in week 10 over a very strong Austintown Fitch football team. Anything can truly happen when a team makes the playoffs, even if they struggled in the win column in the regular season.
*Note: If the Raiders win the next two games, they will have a very good possibility to host a home playoff game at Mollenkopf Stadium. There is still a fight within these Warren G. Harding Raiders with two weeks left in the season. Football is a sport where anything can happen -- stay the course and let us see how the chips may fall.
Going into this week, the Raiders have an extremely sour taste in their mouth. There is a big challenge ahead of them with the Youngstown Chaney Cowboys hosting their game against Harding on Friday night. Chaney will come into this matchup with a 7-1 record, with their only loss coming against Youngstown Ursuline in week 6.
Let us explore Youngstown Chaney's offensive and defensive approach and what they do extremely well.
The Youngstown Chaney Cowboys enter this week 9 contest with a 7-1 record, physically dominating opponents all season. Last week versus the Howland Tigers, Chaney imposed their will winning 42-0. In December of 2021, the Chaney Cowboys announced the hiring of head football coach Seth Antram. Antram left his Boardman head coaching position for Chaney where he was once the offensive coordinator for several seasons under Chris Amill.
According to a WKBN article back in December, Antram had this to say about his return to Youngstown as the head coach of the Chaney Cowboys. "As an educator and coach, the goal is always to make a meaningful impact on as many scholars as possible. I’m grateful to have an opportunity to expand that goal by moving into an administrative and student support role and as the head football coach at Chaney" (Antram).
The Cowboys have improved from their 2021 campaign where they went 4-5 and lost to Warren G. Harding 35-26 in week 9 a season ago. From last year to this, the Cowboys have reloaded with athletes who have grown up and got bigger, faster, and stronger, and are taking Antram's coaching philosophy and teaching to heart. They are buying into the program and are making plays on offense, defense, and special teams -- an entire team effort.
Chaney's Defensive Outlook:
Defense wins championships. It is a plain and simple motto and one that the Chaney Cowboys are using to beat up on opponents week in and week out. Their defense is physical, fast, and athletic, giving opposing teams trouble moving the football.
Standing at 6'3" 215 pounds and a Cincinnati Bearcats commit, Chaney is led by hybrid defender Jason Hewlett Jr. The senior is an all-around athlete who plays multiple defensive and offensive positions. Hewlett Jr can dominate a game by himself as he has blocked extra points, returned kickoffs for touchdowns, intercepted the football, sacked the quarterback, earned tackles for losses, and scored touchdowns at receiver on offense.
Another leader on defense, one that won them their week 5 game against Canfield, is senior safety Jaquan Johnson. Johnson intercepted Canfield quarterback Broc Lowry for a pick-six, which ended up being the game-winning play. Between Johnson, Hewlett Jr, LeBron Donlow (senior defensive back), DJ Waller, and many more, the Chaney Cowboys have the athletes to make plays.
Chaney runs a 4-3 defensive front with a mix of 4-2 at times as well. Their secondary plays a multitude of coverages that include the following: Cover 0, 1, 2-Man, 3, 4, and Cloud. Yes, when breaking down the film, they have displayed almost all of these coverages throughout their games. What are the positives to this as a defense? Well, it can confuse opposing quarterbacks, which makes them make mistakes. The other positive is when you have a defensive front that plays a 4-3 and is extremely stout, you can force errant throws and you add the secondary that is confusing the quarterback through the different coverages, you have a dominant defense.
Chaney's Offensive Outlook:
The offense is led by quarterback #10 Matt Jones, who is a dual-threat athlete who can throw and run the football. Jones places the football in tight windows and can elude defenders, making plays every Friday night.
The big offensive weapon is #7 Jawan Freeman, a 5'10" 190-pound running back who carries the pigskin in a physical manner. Freeman plays multiple defensive positions as well and is considered a hybrid athlete. Linebacker, defensive end, and running back are all the positions he plays. The biggest compliment is that he will run the ball right at you and line up and do it over and over again. Physical hardnose football is what the Cowboys bring to the table. Their running plays include: Iso, Duo, Duo Q-Keep, Lead Option, Bounce, and a few more. Their goal is to run the ball and they window dress with jets and different motions to try and confuse and or rotate/ move the opposing defenders.
Their top formation is Trips (3x1) and they do go 2x2 a good amount. When they are in Trips, they do run the football a heavy amount of time as that is their offensive philosophy. If they need to pass the football, the amount of athletes they have at receiver is definitely the most Harding has faced all season. Look for the following passing concepts: Flood, Verticals, Bubbles, Hitches, Boot Action with Vertical Switches, and a few more that the Harding secondary will need to slow down this week.
First Matchup to Watch: Harding's Offensive Line vs. Chaney's Defensive Line
Chaney is 7-1 for a reason. Their entire defense plays fast, physical, and extremely sound football. It all starts up front for the Cowboys and they look to apply an amount of pressure from their 4-3 defensive front that will make Harding's offensive line battle. With very minimal depth on the offensive line, Harding will continue to look for younger athletes to step up this week. Injuries have played a major factor and in the matchup versus Mooney, Harding's offensive line had to insert a sophomore lineman in #73 Andrew Waldman, for a brief period of time.
Waldman is an extremely smart athlete who is a student of the game. While he is not starting this week, if an offensive lineman needs a break from playing on both sides of the football, or if a lineman gets injured, Waldman is the next man up. #67 Cayden Murphy looks to be on track to return to play versus Youngstown Chaney, and not having him on Friday night versus Mooney definitely played a major factor.
If the Raiders want to have any success running or passing the football on Friday night, it is imperative that the offensive line continues to build both mentally and physically this week. Chaney has a defensive line that will get after you and make big plays, which could impact the entire game from the jump.
Second Matchup to Watch: Harding's Special Teams versus Chaney's Special Teams
Chaney has returned multiple kickoffs this season and has impact players all across the board. Chaney's senior all-around athlete Jason Hewlett Jr, a Cincinnati Bearcats commit, is a threat with the ball in his hands. Hewlett Jr has made plays all season and returned multiple kickoffs along with fellow senior athlete DJ Waller. Waller returned a kickoff 85-yards for a touchdown in week two versus the Boardman Spartans. The Raiders' special teams unit has had a rollercoaster of a season and this week, they will face off against the most explosive and best special teams unit all season. Look for the Raiders' special teams unit to kick the ball away from the deep returners and continue to work on protections and tackling all week long.
Chaney is well-coached, physically strong, extremely fast, and has athletes all around, making it a game where the Raiders' athletes need to outsmart the opponents. Yes, the Raiders have athletes as well and can make plays, but if Harding wants to win this matchup, it will come down to the study of the game and what can work and what will not work versus Chaney. If the Raiders can outsmart their opponent anyway they can, there is a strong possibility that a win can come their way. If they struggle in the two areas I mentioned above with the offensive line and special teams, the game may get out of hand very quickly.
At a Glance:
Warren Harding Raiders
Head Coach: Steven Arnold
Record: 64-51 (Includes 2-6 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 - Loss - 14-28
Sept. 23 at St. Vincent-St. Mary - Loss - 12-27
Sept. 30 at Boardman - Win - 24-21
Oct. 7 vs Mooney - Loss - 17-26
Oct. 14 at Chaney
Oct. 21 at Fitch
Head Coach: Seth Antram
Record: 7-1 (First stint at Chaney)
Years as HC: 1
Record Last Year: 4-5
Defense: 4-2, 4-3
Aug. 19 at Poland Seminary - Win - 34-2
Aug. 26 at Boardman - Win - 40-12
Sept. 2 at Cardinal Mooney - Win - 22-17
Sept. 9 vs Marlington - Win - 35-10
Sept. 16 vs Canfield - Win - 16-13
Sept. 24 vs Ursuline - Loss - 27-30
Sept. 30 at Harvey - Win - 33-14
Oct. 7 at Howland - Win - 42-0
Oct. 14 vs Warren G. Harding
Oct. 21 vs Youngstown East