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Green with envy

Eagles can pay back Aurora for previous playoff loss

November 14, 2013
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

HUBBARD - It doesn't seem like five years have passed since the Hubbard Eagles and Aurora Greenmen squared off in a Division III second-round playoff game at Mollenkopf Stadium.

Eagles coach Brian Hoffman probably can't erase the memory fast enough.

Aided by a controversial pass-interference penalty, the Greenmen registered a 14-7 win. They went on to defeat Walsh Jesuit, Big Walnut and Eastmoor Academy to win the state championship.

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Hubbard’s L.J. Scott, left, and the rest of the Eagles can enact revenge against Aurora in a Division III, Region 7 semifinal on Friday in Austintown. The Greenmen beat Hubbard, 14-7, in a controversial 2008 game and went on to win a state title.

The Eagles and Greenmen will meet in the second round of the Region 7 playoffs Friday at Fitch Falcon Stadium in Austintown. Hoffman doesn't see any need to bring up the revenge angle because of the length of time that has elapsed since the teams last met.

"The (2008) game is a topic of conversation, but most of the guys were in seventh grade at that point," Hoffman said. "Yeah, there's a consideration of it and a fact that we have a history with their program and have an opportunity to play them and the challenge that they bring."

Aurora moved up to Division II in 2009 and remained there through last season. The Greenmen reached the state semifinals the last two seasons, losing to eventual state champion Central Catholic in 2012 and state runner-up Avon in 2011.

The revised divisional structure this year resulted in a drop back to Division III for the 9-2 Greenman, who reached the second round with a 24-21 win over Louisville last week. The Eagles are riding the crest of a perfect 11-0 season, including a 42-14 first-round win over Marlington.

Last week Hoffman had to prepare the Eagles for the deception of an option offense. The challenge this week will be to slow down an offense that shows multiple sets and is led by talented quarterback George Bolas, who's committed to attend Kent State University.

"He's a dual threat," Hoffman said of Bolas. "He has a stronger arm than the quarterback we saw last week. He's a tough runner between the tackles and he has speed and can accelerate in the open field."

It will be another big challenge for the Eagles' defense, which played well last week.

"The past few weeks we've been playing better as a whole," Hoffman said. "This past game was probably our best defensive effort of the season. The previous week, the type of offense required us to be disciplined, and we did a good job in preparations and execution. This week will be the same type of scenario - multiple formations. We need to do a good job of preparation."

It's been an impressive show by the Eagles' offense all season. Hubbard wore down Marlington with the one-two running punch of L.J. Scott and George Hill. The two combined for 281 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

With Scott coming off a minor ankle injury suffered against Canfield in the final game of the regular season, Hill's contributions were welcome relief.

"We have faith in all those players," Hoffman said. "At different times of the season all of them have been called on to help this team. If someone has taken away one aspect of our offense, then we feel confident we can get the ball in the hands of other people and they can make plays for us."

The winner will play either Poland or Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary for the Region 7 title a week from Friday. The fact the Eagles are playing closer to home than are the Greenmen doesn't factor into the equation in Hoffman's thinking.

"I'm just glad to be playing in the second round," he said.