GAME TIME 7 p.m.
LOCATION Reading High School football field
RADIO WCSR 92.1 FM / 1340 AM
On offense: This unit has started to turn into exactly what head coach Joshua Lindeman had envisioned. It’s all runs all the time, minus a few play-action calls. Last week the Comets went wild, running for 456 yards on 51 carries. Trevor Kelley is quick enough to make photos of him blurry, John Sigler is a bonafide feature back, and guys like Kory Kidder and Dominic Mulkey are power backs. Junior QB Spencer Nieslen can throw the long ball, but he’s still learning a few tools of the trade to use when he’s under intense pressure. They have already scored 102 points, after scoring just 188 last year.
On defense: Co-captain Alex Bontempo sets the tone by being in on a majority of the plays and guys like Logan Jenkins can really accelerate around the end. The secondary has given up some long plays, and team tackling has been something the Comets have been working on, but John Sigler and Jay Bearden have showed good coverage abilities on numerous occasions.
Intangibles: The Comet seniors have never beaten Reading and they’ve been waiting since last season’s drubbing to have one final chance. Their running game is explosive, but their passing attack is still a work in progress, with great potential, but some unknowns that linger. Lindeman has helped bring a new level of excitement to this team.
On offense: Brian Rauth leads the county in rushing at 196.8 yards per contest and he’s scored 14 total touchdowns on the year. The offensive line varies in size, but not a whole lot in strength, as they have no trouble controlling the line of scrimmage most nights. Senior QB Joe Hubbard is solid in the pocket, but can also move well with his feet. Last week he threw for 135 yards and targets like Rauth, Alex Eastwood and Chad Berger give the offense plenty of flexibility. Reading has scored at least 40 points in every game and is averaging 47.3 points per game.
On defense: Key players on this veteran unit include hard-hitting linebacker James Piner, the speedy defensive end Eastwood, and the Julian brothers who are fitting in nicely after transferring from Edon, Ohio. They did allow 30 points to Camden-Frontier and 27 to Union City earlier this season, but they have played with a lead almost the entire year, so the defense has not been tested with a game on the line.
Intangibles: It’s hard to ignore the fact the Rangers are 25-3 since the beginning of the 2007 season, and they are on an 18-game regular season winning streak. The Rangers have not had to stray a whole lot from just running the ball and playing conservatively for the most part, so it will be interesting to see what tricks they have up their sleeve if the Comets can stay close.
By the numbers:
6: The Rangers are ranked No. 6 in the all of Division 7 right now, after being ranked as high as No. 4 earlier this season.
12-9: In the past 20 years Reading holds a 12-9 edge in this series. In that time span both teams have put together five game winning streaks.
143-44: In the Rangers current four-game winning streak in this rivalry they have outscored the Comets by this margin. The last two years the Reading offense has hung 47 points on Jonesville in a pair of blowouts.
A small part of me doesn’t even want to make a pick on this one because I really respect what both programs are doing and I know one group of kids will be heart broken later tonight. That said, here’s the difference to me: Reading has won these kinds of games for a few years, while Jonesville is just getting the confidence they can compete with the best; the Rangers can count on Hubbard to direct a smart game with few mistakes, while the Comets’ Nielsen has never seen a front seven like Reading will bring at him. I think this game will be memorable, but experience trumps an emotional high.
READING 42, JONESVILLE 27