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LEOPOLD—For the second year in a row, Perry Central will face Paoli in a battle of unbeaten teams to decide the PLAC football title.
And this time the game, set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Perry Central, could live up to the hype.
Last year Perry Central amassed 383 yards of total offense to Paoli’s 105 and shut out the Rams 28-0.
But the Rams are a more experienced team this year, as they return “eight or nine starters on offense,” noted Perry Central Coach Mike Spencer.
Paoli is ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A coaches poll this year after being ranked only No. 12 at this time last year. Perry Central is ranked No. 3 in the Class A coaches poll, one notch higher than last year at this point.
“We’re not quite as physical in the middle as we were last year, so we know that it will be a challenge to take away the things they want to do, because they want to run the quarterback,” said Spencer.
But he added, “Our kids are going to get off the football. We’ll create some challenges for them.”
Returnees for the Rams include their top two ball carriers, 6-foot, 196-pound senior quarterback Logan Laswell and 5-10, 179-pound senior fullback Tyler Dillard. “The fullback and quarterback have run the ball well,” said Spencer.
Laswell is a capable passer as well as runner. “The run has been the best thing for them, but they’re not afraid to throw it,” said Spencer.
Dillard combines power and speed in his running. He won the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the Bedford-North Lawrence track sectional last spring.
Though those two have excellent speed, “I think in overall quickness we’ll match up well,” said Spencer. “The key will be in not letting that speed get outside.”
Spencer said the Commodores “will match up OK size-wise. We’re probably bigger on the line of scrimmage.”
Jordan Cole, a 6-1, 272-pound senior guard and returning starter, is the Rams’ biggest lineman.
Besides running, the Rams “have some kids that can catch the football,” said Spencer.
He listed 5-10, 157-pound senor slotback Jacob Randolph, who also runs some counters, as one of the top receivers.
“And both their split ends (Tate Smith, a 5-11, 170-pound senior, and Thomas Springer, a 6-1, 191-pound senior) run well.”
The Rams use a variety of offensive sets, including a run-and-shoot with one back and a wing-T from which they like to run the option.
“They like to kind of spread the field,” said Spencer.
They normally use a 5-2 defense with four deep backs, but Spencer thinks “against us they’re going to put nine or 10 people in the box until they find out if we can handle it.”
Dillard plays nose guard and “creates problems with his quickness,” said Spencer. “Cody Baker, an inside linebacker (5-10, 186-pound senior), is really effective also.
“And their secondary has done a decent job—they haven’t let too many go over the top of them.”