Following their 27-14 playoff win at Chillicothe last week, the Miami Trace Panthers are getting ready to visit London High School Friday night for a second round Division III playoff game against the London Red Raiders.
A former South Central Ohio League opponent of Miami Trace, London is currently 5-1 on the season.
Only one of their wins has been against a team with a winning record.
London began the season with a 28-13 win over Benjamin Logan (2-5).
London then defeated Tecumseh, 20-7. Tecumseh is currently 3-4.
The Red Raiders improved to 3-0 with a 35-0 win over Kenton Ridge (0-5).
The fourth game of the season saw London beat Springfield Shawnee, 34-7. Shawnee is 3-2.
London then trounced Bellefontaine, 50-14. Bellefontaine stands at 2-5.
On Oct. 2, London ended the regular season with a 30-13 loss to Jonathan Alder (6-0).
“We’re still playing and that’s a good thing,” Miami Trace head coach Jerry Williams said.
Williams spoke about the dearth of players available to the Cavaliers in that game.
“It could have happened to anybody,” Williams said. “My understanding is their entire j-v was out. Their varsity team was intact, with the exception of the quarterback, a receiver and their kicker. That receiver was also a safety for them on defense. All of those guys are very good players.
“That was a good team,” Williams said. “They fought like crazy to play with the numbers they had and they played very well. I would’ve loved to have played them when they had their entire team. I’m sure they would have loved to have played us when we had our entire team. Unfortunately, this year, we just weren’t able to do that.
“They ended up with the conference championship and we’re in a situation where we’re moving on in the playoffs,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, it is what it is. I feel sorry for the seniors at Chillicothe and coach (Doug) Pryor in those circumstances and I would have hated for that to be my team. We have to play what’s put out in front of us.”
The last time Miami Trace played London in a regular season game was Sept. 14, 2012. The Panthers won at London, 34-20.
“London is a very well-coached team,” Williams said. “Coach (Kyle) Cutler has a very good team over there. They’re very physical, very big, a very strong team. They have a lot of athletes. They come right at you.
“It’s going to be a different style than what we’ve played this year,” Williams said. “We do have some wing-T teams that out there that we play against, but this is an extremely physical and big and strong team.
“It’s going to be a battle of different styles altogether,” Williams said. “We’re going to try and spread it out and use our speed. I don’t think there is any secret there — that’s what we do — try to spread it out and give it to (Jayden) LeBeau or (Josh) Gilmore or any other players out on the edge.
“Defensively, we have a challenge,” Williams said. “We have to play big and strong on defense and try to slow them down as much as possible. Like I said, they’re going to come right at you. They are not flashy in any way. They want to run it down your throat and keep doing it.
“It’s a different challenge for us, from what we’ve faced, especially in the last couple of weeks against Chillicothe and Court House,” Williams said. “Even Jackson, they have multiple approaches and the way they come at you, as well.
“(London) is pretty one-dimensional in what they want to do,” Williams said. “If they have success with it, they stay right in it.”
What are the keys to another playoff win for the Panthers?
“When you get into the playoffs and you play good teams, you can’t make mistakes,” Williams said. “That’s why teams with experience are the teams that win conference championships and state championships. Those teams have the experience and they understand what needs to happen in a tight situation. You can’t turn the ball over and you can’t make mental mistakes.
“The team with the least amount of mistakes is typically the team that’s going to win,” Williams said. “You have to be exceptionally talented to win if you’re making quite a few mistakes.
“What we want to do against London is go out and just play smart football, do what we do best,” Williams said. “We want to try and eliminate our mistakes and see what the score is at the end of the game. We can’t put it all on LeBeau and Gilmore. Other guys have got to step up and make plays.”