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St. Paul Flyers out for revenge on Tiffin Calvert Senecas
MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE St. Paul running back Michael Griffin, left, hopes to lead the Flyers to a Week 11 win when they take on Tiffin Calvert on Friday night at Whitney Field.
They’re no stranger to the postseason, which is evident by the 14 times they’ve been there.
Including this year, where a 7-3 regular season and its 18th Firelands Conference championship earned St. Paul a home playoff game.
The fourth-seeded Flyers will host fifth-seeded Tiffin Calvert (6-4) tonight at 7:30 at Whitney Field in the Division VI, Region 22 quarterfinals.
“We’re excited,” St Paul coach John Livengood said. “We achieved our first goal of winning the conference championship — that’s always our first goal — our second goal is to make the playoffs and the kids are really excited about that. We’re staying pretty even-keeled of things; we’re just treating it like Week 11 of football season.”
The Flyers are hoping to repeat the success they had the last time they made the postseason, which ended in a state championship in 2009.
Before they can even focus on that, though, they’ll have to get past a Senecas team that already defeated the Flyers once this season.
Tiffin Calvert and St. Paul met in Week 2 of the season at Whitney Field, a game the Senecas won by two touchdowns, 34-20. The Flyers, who are a running team, were held to just 160 yards rushing and were outgained 421-194 on offense.
“We had a tough time containing them the first time around,” Livengood said.
Of the Senecas’ 248 yards rushing that game, quarterback Tyler Long rushed for 111 of them.
“Long is an outstanding runner,” Livengood added. “What they were able to take advantage of against us is his running ability. He’s the primary focus, but you can’t focus completely on him because they have an excellent fullback in Daniel Kwiat. He’s a big, bruising fullback that runs the ball well.”
Fortunately for St. Paul, it boasts a great running game as well, led by the duo of Michael Griffin and Devin Smith.
Griffin (1,516 yards) and Smith (1,212) have combined to rush for 2,728 yards and 44 TDs. Of the Flyers’ 3,768 yards of offense they’ve compiled on the season, 3,148 of them have come on the ground.
While St. Paul will look to run the ball more efficiently the second time against Tiffin Calvert, Livengood is most interested in how his team responds on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think the primary thing would be defensively,” he said. “We have to play a lot better. That’s probably the area we’ve most improved on.”
The Flyers’ defense gives up nearly 280 yards a game and is holding opponents to an average of 21 points per game.
Jaret Nickoli leads the team with 91 tackles, 12 of which are for losses. Connor Smith leads with six sacks, while Connor Smith has five interceptions.
“Secondly, we have to be able to run the ball effectively and pass the ball on our terms. We have to be able to play-action pass off of it.”
That’s where Flyers quarterback Scottie Slauterbeck comes into play.
Although he hasn’t thrown the ball much this season – mainly because he hasn’t had to — Slauterbeck has completed 32 of 65 passes for 430 yards, with four TDs and four INTs.
He’ll be looking for Griffin and Anthony Ghazoul, who lead St. Paul with 165 and 163 receiving yards, respectively.
Livengood said his team has come a long way since its loss to the Senecas and expects his team to play better the second time around.
“You look back on the mistakes you made and work to correct them,” Livengood said. “I like to think that we’ve gotten better in a lot of areas. They’ve gotten better as well. Both teams are doing some things different than they were nine weeks ago.”
St. Paul Flyers
Conference: Firelands (1st)
Coach: John Livengood
Playoff appearances: 14
State Championships: 1 (2009)
Leaders: Passing — Scottie Slauterbeck (32 of 65, 430 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs); Rushing — Michael Griffin (171 carries, 1,516 yards, 18 TDs); Receiving — Griffin (9 receptions, 165 yards, 4 TDs); Tackles — Jaret Nickoli 91; Sacks — Paul Carson, Kyle Rospert 6; Interceptions — Connor Smith 5.
2012 Flyers schedule
Aug. 25 at Sandusky Central Catholic, W 34-12
Sept. 1 vs. Tiffin Calvert, L 34-20
Sept. 8 vs. Huron, L 48-12
Sept. 15 vs. Mapleton, W 61-40
Sept. 21 at South Central, W 31-6
Sept. 28 at Western Reserve, L 32-0
Oct. 6 vs. New London, W 49-7
Oct. 12 at Plymouth, W 30-14
Oct. 20 vs. Crestview, W 56-13
Oct. 27 at Monroeville, W 35-0
Tonight vs. Tiffin Calvert, Playoffs
Tiffin Calvert Senecas
Conference: Midland Athletic League (4th)
Coach: Todd Fox
Playoff appearances: 10
State Championships: 2 (1980, 1981)
2012 Senecas schedule
Aug. 24 vs. McComb, L 48-21
Sept. 1 at St. Paul, W 34-20
Sept. 7 at Woodmore, L 17-7
Sept. 14 at Lokota, W 53-7
Sept. 21 vs. Seneca East, W 28-21
Sept. 28 at Carey, L 22-7
Oct. 5 vs. North Baltimore, W 52-16
Oct. 13 vs. St. Joseph Central Catholic, L 16-14
Oct. 19 at Mohawk, W 14-8
Oct. 26 vs. Hopewell-Louden, W 35-26
Tonight at St. Paul, Playoffs
Last Updated: 11/1/2012 9:51:00 PM EST