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Playoff football back in North Lima for Raiders

November 8, 2013
By CHRIS RAMBO - Special to Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

NORTH LIMA - From the beginning of fall practice, the South Range football team felt strongly that they would be the ones to recapture elite status for the proud program. That goal has been realized.

After a six-year hiatus, playoff football returns this week to the old South Range High School when the undefeated Raiders host Cuyahoga Heights (6-4) in a first round matchup.

The last time South Range hosted a playoff game was in 2007 against Kirtland. That game came near the end of a seven year run when the Raiders won at least one playoff game in all but two seasons, advanced to five regional championship games and were state semifinalists in 2005. Since then, the only postseason appearances were quick one-and-out road games against Kirtland (2008) and Ursuline (2010).

"Nobody on this team has experienced the atmosphere of a home playoff game, so it's pretty exciting for everyone," senior wide receiver Zach Thorpe said. "Everyone stepped up and worked hard to bring the program back to this level."

Awaiting the Raiders (ranked third in Division VI) on Friday night will be a Cuyahoga Heights Redskins team that finished 6-4 and 4-3 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division. The Redskins boast a strong postseason tradition of their own, having made the playoffs 12 of the last 13 seasons (losing out to Kirtland on a tiebreaker in 2007), racking up 10 wins and three regional final appearances in that span. This year's team will get off the bus after a 90-minute trip looking to throw early and often out of their no-back, spread offense.

"Cuyahoga Heights different than any team we've faced recently. Against Kirtland this year I think they only ran the ball four times the entire game." Raiders coach Dan Yeagley said. "Garfield Heights Trinity is really the only team we've played that comes close to doing what they do. They really throw it as much as they can."

The focal point for the Raiders will be senior quarterback Jordan Martin - son of coach Al Martin - who completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,729 yards to go with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Martin - who also led the team with 660 rushing yards - will be targeting four talented receivers in Jack Alpert, Tyler Gallo, Trent Gallo and Craig McDaniel. All four had at least 480 receiving yards and caught at least six touchdowns.

"We are going to have to change some things up on our defense,"?Yeagley said. "It's going to be an adjustment. They throw downfield and also like to dink and dunk teams. We didn't advance scout them, so we've been hard at work the last two days studying film."



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