By John Bombatch
JAMESTOWN — Greeneview High School football coach Neal Kasner has built the Rams into a perennial playoff participant. The team is playing in the Division V postseason playoffs for the third consecutive year. But with that success comes greater challenges along the way.
On Saturday night, the three-time playoff contenders will take on the four-time defending Division V state champions.
Greeneview (9-2) meets up with the Coldwater Cavaliers (10-1), at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 on the Sidney High School sports complex.
“When you want to be the best, not only do you have to play the best, you gotta beat ‘em. We’ve got that opportunity this week,” Kasner said by phone Thursday night.
Kasner knows his team has a challenge this weekend, but he says the Rams are healthy and ready to go.
“We are healthy. That’s really good, for the 12th week of the year,” he said. “I think our kids are pretty confident as far as our abilities and being able to count on each other as a team. I think they’re ready to go out there and go among them, as they say.”
Greeneview upset no. 3 seeded Carlisle a week ago by the slimmest of margins. The region’s sixth seeded Rams managed to stop an Indians two-point conversion with 36 seconds left in regulation to escape Laughlin Field with a 21-20 victory.
Led by senior quarterback Collin Matt and running backs Jacob Green and Griffin Mangan, Greeneview averages 38.2 points per game, and gives up 15.3.
Matt has completed 59 of 105 passes for 893 yards and 14 touchdowns thus far, and he’s run for 477 yards (81 carries) for 12 other scores. Junior backs Green and Mangan have 705 and 595 yards rushing respectively. Green has 10 TDs while Mangan has eight.
Six-foot-5, 245-pound tight end Ethan Bradds has been a reliable go-to receiver for the Rams this season. The grandson of the late Ohio State basketball standout Gary Bradds, Ethan has been just as clutch in the Rams’ arsenal on both sides of the ball.
Bradds has 12 receptions for 273 yards and four TDs this season, and came up with probably a half dozen clutch third-down receptions in the win over Carlisle. Ian Tamplin, Tyler Robinette, Austin Roberts and Collin Wilson have eight or more receptions between them, with Wilson right behind Bradds with 11.
Roberts joins standout defensive lineman Isaiah Harding and linebacker Tommy Smith as the Rams’ leading tacklers. Roberts and Harding both have 64 while Smith has 57. Harding leads the team in sacks as well, with six.
Despite those numbers, Kasner knows his Greeneview bunch will be in for quite a test against Coldwater, the Midwest Athletic Conference’s co-champion.
“Their quarterback (no. 7 Dylan Thobe) is really really good. He can run the ball very well, and he throws it well, too. They have two really good receivers in number 16 (Neal Muhlenkamp) and number 98 (Zach Klosterman). Their offensive line is very disciplined and does a good job. They’re offense will be very formidable.
The Cavaliers are averaging 29 points per game this season, while giving up 11.5.
The Rams coach said Coldwater reminds him of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in terms of how wide open the Cavaliers can be offensively. CHCA is still in the playoff hunt as well. They play West Milton Milton-Union on Saturday night in Miamisburg. The winners of the two games will then meet up for the regional title game at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at a neutral location yet to be determined.
“Defensively, they really get after it and fly around after the ball. It’s really hard to run the ball wide on them, at least from what I’ve seen on film. And I think their pass defense is very good. And their kicking game, both their punter and their placekicker, have strong legs. So we’ll have a lot of challenges, that’s for sure,” Kasner added.
Kasner says the key will be whether his Rams can prevent Coldwater from reeling off big plays on offense. Meanwhile, his Rams need to have success running between the tackles, racking up first downs and keeping field position in their favor.
“If we can do those things, we should be able to hang around. And then if we can make a play or two in the fourth quarter, who knows what can happen?” Kasner said.