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Western Reserve has plenty of options against Danville

November 15, 2013
By MATT WAGNER - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

With one 2,000-yard passer and another close to 2,000 yards sharing the field at Robert Fife Stadium in Massillon on Saturday night, it's easy to say the Western Reserve-Danville matchup in a Division VII, Region 23 semifinal will be all about the quarterbacks.

Just don't tell that to Western Reserve quarterback Nick Allison, who has accounted for 1,967 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air so far this season. The junior will point to the Western Reserve's rushing attack - which includes two almost 1,000-yard running backs in Evan Nesbitt (998 yards, nine touchdowns) and Dan Zilke (945 yards, 15 TD's) - to show that Western Reserve (11-0) is two-dimensional on offense.

"It's not just about the quarterbacks - it's about the whole team," Allison said. "That's always a big thing when an offense can do both, run or pass. Our line does a great job of opening holes for our running backs, and Evan Nesbitt and Dan Zilke are great running backs. They see the holes and they hit them. I think that (the running game) gives us an advantage."

While Western Reserve can score in multiple fashions, Danville (9-2) relies heavily on its quarterback.

Allison's counterpart on the other sideline, Ridge Durbin, accounted for 78 percent of his team's total offense during the regular season. Durbin led Danville (9-2) with 785 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, while tossing for 2,330 yards and 30 TD's with a 59.3 completing percentage. He didn't have much to do in Danville's 49-0 win over Lowellville last Saturday, but he still threw for three touchdowns.

Western Reserve coach Andy Hake said Danville likes to spread out the field on offense to utilize its quarterback's strengths.

"We have to cover the whole stadium," Hake said. "They stretch out across the field, and they're looking for mismatches. They sit in holes in the zone, and they have a big quarterback that's going to cause us a lot of problems."

As for Allison and the Western Reserve offense, they will see a lot of man coverage from the Danville secondary with a free safety over top, something that Allison said he will look to exploit.

Allison said Western Reserve has the right combination of size and speed to give the Danville secondary fits, starting with leading receiver Joe Falasca. The 6-foot-5, 182-pound junior has averaged 23.7 yards per catch and has recorded 15 receiving touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Danny Rosati is no slouch either, averaging 15.1 yards per reception while standing at 5 foot 11 and 143 pounds.

"We have a lot of depth with our receivers," Allison said. "There's guys on our team that might start on defense but aren't even starting on offense that are probably good enough receivers to start on any team in our league. We have really fast guys that can catch the ball and everything you need to beat man coverage."

With this in mind, both Allison and Hake said they are confident Western Reserve will move on to Week 13 - assuming the team doesn't underestimate Danville, which beat Lowellville, the only school to play both teams this season, by more points (49) than Western Reserve did in Week 7 (29).

"We're expecting to get a W," Allison said. "That's always the goal. If we stay determined and focused all week, then I feel that we'll get the win."