New Castle News

November 9, 2012

District 10 Playoffs: Preview of Wilmington vs. Fairview

Joe Sager
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — It’ll be power vs. power Saturday at Grove City High School.

Wilmington makes the short trek to take on Fairview at 1 p.m. in a District 10, Class AA quarterfinal showdown.

Don’t expect much of an aerial attack from the Greyhounds (7-2) and Tigers (6-3). Both teams will pass when necessary, but their offensive strength comes via the running game.

“We have two different ways of doing the same thing,” Fairview coach Jim Brinling said. “We go with a zone running scheme, while Wilmington is more of a wing set. It’s two different styles, but with the same goal in mind.”

Both teams feature powerful running backs in Wilmington’s Tyler Donati and Fairview’s Shannon Jackson. Donati, a senior, has racked up 1,250 yards and 17 touchdowns on 146 carries, while Jackson leads all D-10 rushers with 1,921 yards and 23 TDs on 244 totes.

“Fairview is a power running team. They have a great tailback. Their quarterback can throw and run; they run two tight ends most of time and just hand it to (Jackson). They are very good at it. But, we have to be prepared,” Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli said. “They are more of a ball control team. We don’t want them to be running the ball on offense most of the game. They keep chewing up yards.”

Controlling the ball on the ground is the ’Hounds’ game, too. When Donati isn’t lugging the rock, Alex Patton (79 carries, 536 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Nic Pugh (45, 293, 6) have enjoyed success on the ground as well.

“Tyler Donati runs hard between the tackles. I can’t say enough about the offensive line for Wilmington,” Brinling said. “It’s a smashmouth kind of football. I have a whole lot of respect for Coach Verrelli and what he’s been able to do during his career at Wilmington.”

Wilmington and the Tigers benefited from an off week last week. That, combined with an early release of the D-10 playoff brackets, allowed the squads to have some extra preparation time.

“In the past, when we have had playoff years and not had a game in the 10th week, that week of practice wasn’t as focused when we didn’t have the opportunity to study and prepare for an opponent. It was nice to have Wilmington to prepare for this week.”

In addition, the ’Hounds gained some valuable rest. Donati and Pugh injured their ankles in the team’s Week 9 26-0 win at Greenville. The victory gave Verrelli a career mark of 269-112-3, one shy of the District 10 record for coaching wins set by Warren High legend J.B. Leidig (270-124-27) from 1912-1951.

“They aren’t quite 100 percent,” Verrelli said. “I think Donati will be ready to go and Pugh should be, too.”

Wilmington is looking forward to playing close to home against the Tigers.

“Definitely, that makes a big difference. The kids are excited. They realize it’s a great opportunity. We want to be prepared and take advantage of our opportunity,” Verrelli said. “I think we have to play our game. At this stage, there are no real secrets. We have to move the ball offensively and be able to pass and play good defense.

“Defense is the key to the game for us. They are very good at passing when they do throw the ball. They are primarily a running team and we’ve got to be able to slow it down and make them punt so they don’t control the ball and use up the clock.”