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Youngstown Christian to face talented Malvern team

November 6, 2012
By TIM CLEVELAND - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

The 1-9 season Youngstown Christian had in 2010 is a distant memory.

The Eagles have completely turned their program around, going 18-4 since then and qualifying for the Division VI state playoffs both seasons.

Youngstown Christian advanced to the regional semifinals last season and have done so again in 2012, winning a 20-14 heartstopper last Friday night against John F. Kennedy at Mollenkopf Stadium.

Youngstown Christian led 20-7 early in the fourth quarter, but JFK scored to get within six points and recovered the subsequent onside kick. Youngstown Christian's defense came up huge as Kennedy drove within range of a touchdown, but a fourth-down pass fell to the turf incomplete.

"It was little nervewracking to let them get to that point," Youngstown Christian coach Brian Marrow said. "It seemed like we had the game in control before that. We gave up a couple fourth down plays. We got pressure in the secondary and came up huge. I was pretty proud of those guys for that."

For the Eagles to take the next step and go where no team in school history has gone before, they will have to get by Malvern, a 21-0 victor over Fairport Harding last week. The regional semifinal game will be played Friday night at 7:30 at Green Street Stadium's John Cistone Field in Akron.

"They're really tough," Marrow said of Malvern. "They run the ball pretty efficiently. They have a couple big backs. They have a couple linemen that are pretty tough."

Indeed they are. The Hornets are 10-1 and have made the playoffs every season since 2007 and eight times in coach Dave Tucci's 14 seasons. Malvern is 53-11 since 2007.

"We played very well defensively," Tucci said of the victory over Fairport. "We held a good running team to 26 rushing yards so I'm happy with our defense. Offensively, we got off to a slow start. We had some penalties early on that kept us out of the end zone. We played a solid, clean second half and pulled away. It was a nice atmosphere. It's always nice to host a playoff game. I'm happy with the win and to move on."

Leading on the offensive side of the ball for Malvern is tailback Cobin Plessinger, who has 1,570 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also in the backfield are Brady Weber (611 yards and 14 scores), Max Kapron (498 yards on the ground with 471 receiving and a total of 14 touchdowns) and quarterback Trey Tucci (64 of 105 for 836 yards with 13 touchdowns and two interceptions).

"Cobin Plessinger is our tailback and leading rusher," Dave Tucci said. "He had over 200 yards last week. Brady Weber is our fullback. We gets the tough yards. Max Kapron is our all-purpose guy. He can play receiver, line up in the backfield, play quarterback, or be a return guy. He's scored in a number of ways this year. Those three guys will have the ball in their hands most of the time."

Marrow said for Youngstown Christian to win the game, it must play the same type of game it has all season.

"Just the same deal," he said. "Keep the turnovers to a minimum. Keep the penalties to a minimum. Execute on offense and defense."

For the Eagles, tailback Ryan Grier is the workhorse. He has more than 1,300 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Quarterback Emmett Underwood has passed for more than 1,100 yards with 15 scoring passes, and while Darien Townsend was held out of the end zone against Kennedy, he has 13 total scores this season.

"We've seen them in person a couple of times. They've played some teams in our league like Garaway and Sandy Valley," Tucci said. "Their tailback (Grier) is very good. They have a good wide receiver (Townsend) they go to. We're going to have to contain those guys. Be careful on kick coverages. We need to keep them from getting any big plays.

"We have to be able to block their two defensive ends (brothers KaeVon and DreVon Green). They caused some problems especially late in the year. We have to block them and avoid turnovers."

Production from their defense is exactly what the Eagles are looking for Friday night. Youngstown Christian had eight sacks last week against Kennedy and pressured JFK quarterback Dominic Naples all night. KaeVon Green had four of the sacks and now has 20 on the season.

"It was big beating a team of that magnitude," Marrow said of the victory last week. "We're a pretty young program and we haven't been around too long. We still have a long way to get to their category. They have a great program with a great history."

Tucci said that Friday's game will be a battle of which team can impose its style of play on the other.

"They are a type of team that relies on big plays," he said. "We are a team that relies on lengthy drives. We'll see what gives on Friday night."



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