By David Harpster

The Independant


The Teams:

The Perry Panthers’ first road trip of the season wasn’t a memorable one, as they suffered their  initial loss this fall with a 19-13 setback at Boardman last week. First-year Perry coach Keith Boedicker didn’t use the long ride or being in unfamiliar surroundings for the first time as a crutch, instead choosing to focus on the fact Perry dug itself an early hole by committing three first-half turnovers. Perry’s defense, which had been stout against the run through four games, also had its breakdowns in allowing Boardman to run for 188 yards. When the Perry offense has clicked this year, it’s been because the Panthers’ running game has churned out the yards and helped set up a very efficient play-action passing game. That wasn’t necessarily the case last week, though, as the Panthers were facing more third-and-long situations than normal. Junior tailback Jon Miller has taken to his role as the Panthers’ primary ball carrier this season, while QB Cody Minor has been solid in his first year under center. Perry’s offensive line – led by  seniors Warren Parks, Steven Rowe, Logan Bishop and Nick Boron – have helped established the line of the scrimmage this season. Miller isn’t the Panthers’ lone skill position player, as fellow back McKinley Lancaster, fullback Anthony Wise, tight end David Hughson and receivers Tony Magnacca and Charlie Steiner have all contributed at various times. Aside from last week, Perry’s defense has been stout against the run this season. Wise is one of the unit’s leaders from his linebacker spot, while fellow linebacker Justin Rauls and safeties Magnacca and Josiah Dehnke all have shown a nose for the ball.

The Lake Blue Streaks stamped themselves a contender in the Federal League by knocking off McKinley in Week Three. Lake followed that with a 21-3 win over Boardman before suffering a 24-10 setback to Hoover last week. At 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the league, the Blue Streaks still are in prime position to contend for a league title. Veteran coach Jeff Durbin won his 150th career game earlier this season, and he has the Blue Streaks playing well even after losing standout RB Jim Luther to a likely season-ending knee injury in the McKinley win. Lake’s multiple-formation offense is now taking a two-pronged approach to running the ball, as Jarrod Daugherty and Zach Gazdacko get most of the carries. Junior quarterback Jon Spohn gives the Streaks a viable passing option since he’s completing more than 50 percent of his passes. Lake’s line is led by big (6-foot-4, 263 pounds) senior Justice Karmie. Defensively, Lake has taken a hit with injuries to end Patrick Freed and defensive back Logan Wartman. The Blue Streaks, though, still have linebackers Corey Paulino and Daugherty, as well as lineman Jarrod Wendorf, who have been three of the unit’s most consistent performers thus far.

The Key Matchup:

Perry will have to get back to controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, as it did in running out to a 4-0 start. While the numbers say the Panthers rushed for more than 180 yards last week, the short-yardage situations on second and third down that set up their effective play-action passing game weren’t as prevalent. Perry also must do a better job of hanging onto the football after Boardman converted three first-half turnovers into 12 points.

Streaks, Stats and Facts:

Perry leads the all-time series with Lake 15-6, but the Blue Streak are coming off a 35-7 win last season on their home field. That win snapped a three-game Perry winning streak in the series. ... Daugherty has rushed for 241 yards and three TDs on 49 attempts. He’s made 45 stops on defense. ... Spohn is 32-of-55 passing for 509 yards and two TDs this fall. He’s tossed just one interception. ... Wendorf has five tackles for a loss and one sack among his 36 tackles. ... Perry rushed for 184  yards against Boardman last week, but it took the Panthers 46 attempts to get there. Miller had 128 yards and a TD on 31 carries, raising his season totals to 835 yards and 13 TDs on 133 carries. ... Wise has contributed 10 catches for 173 yards out of the backfield. He scored his first touchdown last week on a 12-yard screen pass. ... Minor was 9-of-20 for 135 yards and a score last week. He’s 48-of-89 for 871 yards and seven scores this fall. He’s also rushed for two TDs. ... Perry is minus-3 in turnover margin this season. Perry’s defense has come up with five fumbles and two interceptions, but its offense has committed five of each through five games. ... Magnacca leads Perry with 16 catches for 392 yards and three TDs. ... Hughson has added eight catches for 136 yards for Perry.

Coach speak:

“Lake is very sound offensively and defensively and they’re always well-coached,” Boedicker said of the Blue Streaks. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes on either side of the ball. Daugherty is a very good player, very under-rated and the sophomore they’ve had come in (Gazdacko) has run well for them. They still have two very good backs.  “Looking at them offensively, it’s like looking in a mirror sometimes. We both like to do a lot of the same things offensively.”

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