By Gary R. Rasberry
It will be almost looking in the mirror as Coldwater prepares for the Lemon-Monroe offense in advance of Saturday's Division IV state semifinal at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
The 12-1 Hornets run a shotgun formation spread offense, with three and four receivers at times and two backs in the backfield on other occasions. It is similar to the Cavaliers' calling-card offense.
"There are some similarities to what we try to do," said Coldwater coach John Reed. "They're trying to spread the field to find seams that they can run in but also spread you out well enough to throw the ball. They do both well."
Facing a team that plays almost the same style makes for a unique scouting experience, especially for a Coldwater team that has, to say the least, seen it all when preparing for teams.
"As Tim (Defensive coordinator Tim Hoyng) and the defensive staff look at what we do, they say 'This is what I would do against us,'" said Reed. "Now we're going to get a chance to do that very thing. I think we'll be able to use some of the information we have in trying to defend ourselves in this game." The term "Cinderella" could definitely fit the Hornets. After going 2-8 last season, the Hornets and second-year coach Jason Krause barreled through the Mid-Miami League South this season in going 9-1 then dominated perennial power Valley View 35-21 at Princeton on Saturday to earn their first state semifinal berth since 1983.
Weapons are in abundance for Lemon-Monroe, starting with its passers.
All season Krause has rotated senior Tad Kilburn and sophomore Tyler Osterman on a regular basis. Osterman threw for 1,196 yards during the regular season with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and has been getting more of the snaps in the playoffs.
Kilburn is just as potent, throwing for 1,094 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. The pair worked its way through a young Valley View secondary last week.
Reed finds it hard to find any differences in their styles.
"I broke down film on them (Monday)," said Reed. "I couldn't tell one from the other one when they were in there. They're both just good quarterbacks."
The big catching threat for the Hornets is senior Pat Harrington. Harrington is a big threat as a receiver, standing over 6-2 and weighing 200 pounds. In the regular season, Harrington had 46 receptions for 864 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season in earning first team honors in the Southwest District. On the other side, Josh Herron added 43 snags for 715 yards and six scores. Herron is also a potent threat on returns, earning district honors as a return man.
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While Valley View had a young secondary, the Cavalier trio of corners Brady Geier, Justin Kahlig and safety Trevor Stromblad, along with backs like Ryan Geier and Ross Homan have seen solid quarterbacks before and will be ready.
In addition to the passing game, the Hornets also have a good rushing game. Sophomore Jared Ferguson rushed for 792 yards and scored 11 times in the regular season.
Defensively, the Hornets have been dominant. Linebacker Mike Majors was the district's defensive player of the year after totalling five fumble recoveries and three interceptions during the season.
"They swarm to the football," said Reed. "They are a fast-flow team. They have good overall defensive team speed and run to the ball. Again, that's kind of a mirror image of us."
Lemon-Monroe may not be ready for an equally-dominant passing attack. The Hornets gave up just 584 yards passing in the regular season. Valley View quarterback Chris Cason threw for 262 yards and a touchdown in the regional final last week.
One thing the Hornets will have on Coldwater is experience on artificial turf. Hornet Stadium has an artificial playing surface. Coldwater traveled to Welcome on Tuesday to get a pre-holiday practice in on the surface. Coldwater has experience on the turf at Welcome, having played last season in the state semis against Versailles as well as other trips through the years