Taking down top-seed Valley View will be a tall task for the Blanchester football team Friday night.
But head football coach Jon Mulvihill says the Spartans are the team with everything to lose in this one.
“We have nothing to lose,” he said. “We’re the 9 seed, they’re the 1 seed. All the pressure is on them. We’re gonna go out there Friday and try to slay the giant. Weirder things have happened.”
Blanchester plays at Valley View 7 p.m. Friday in a Division V Region 20 second round game.
Valley View won the Southwestern Buckeye League West Division with a 7-0 mark. The Spartans are 10-1 overall. The big win was over West rival Brookville, 28-14, the only defeat in 11 games for the Blue Devils. The Spartans also defeated 9-2 Bellbrook, 7-4 Eaton and 7-4 Shawnee. The only loss was to unbeaten Milton-Union in Week 2.
Blanchester, 8-3, has two wins over teams with a winning record, 8-3 Williamsburg and 6-5 Summit Country Day last week in the playoffs.
The Wildcats have lost to 7-4 Paint Valley, 3-8 Waynesville and 10-1 Tri-Village.
According to stats on the SWBL website, Caden Henson is the quarterback for VV with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Jacob Clark is the backfield hammer, running for 1,181 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Clark has three return touchdowns among the six total special teams touchdowns for the Spartans this season.
Caden Phillips is another special teams weapon with six field goals and 51 extra point kicks.
Gavin Degroat and Bradyn Gibbs both have more than 120 tackles to lead the Valley View defense.
Blanchester is lead by Michael Mulvihill (1,120 yards and 11 TDs passing; 1,325 yards and 20 TDs rushing; 98 tackles on defense).
Bryce Sipple also has been a multi-threat option for BHS with 689 yards and 12 TDs on the ground and 436 yards and 8 TDs through the air. Sipple has two more points on the year than Mulvihill, both with 20 TDs but Sipple with 7 2-point conversions to Mulvihill’s 6.
The Wildcats advanced to this point with a 60-28 win over Summit Country Day last week. Sipple ran for a school record 311 yards, while scoring 4 TDs.
”Crazy to say, but after watching film, we definitely could have done better,” Mulvihill said. “We did break a ton of tackles. We need to be able to throw the football more consistently. Am I proud of how the offense performed? Yes. Can we improve? Also yes.”
Part of Blanchester’s success on defense came from SCD being one dimensional on offense. Valley View won’t be that way.
“Valley View is a very good football team.” the BHS coach said. “We need to play mistake free, drive the ball down the field with long time consuming drives, and create a turnover or two. We will also need to steal a possession via special teams. Their running back is a special player and their two inside linebackers are as good as any that we have seen all year. Their kicker can get touchbacks on kickoff and has made multiple 30-plus yard field goals. Their return teams have multiple returns for TDs this year. We will minimize their opportunities for quality returns this week.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @wnjsports