Chiefs in battle of unbeatens

Chiefs in battle of unbeatens

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Chiefs in battle of unbeatens

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Key Matchups


Buena LBs Neal Nelson (6 feet, 1 inch, 195 pounds), Dustin Endicott (5-9, 175) and Dom DeFoor (6-0, 200) vs. Cedar Creek QB Damon Mitchell (6 feet, 3 inches, 204 pounds). Mitchell, the Pirates’ elite quarterback who has already verbally committed to play football at Georgia Tech, is arguably the best all-around athlete in the conference. He leads the Cape-Atlantic League in passing yards with 489 and he’s eighth in the league in rushing with 231 yards. If Mitchell can’t be contained, the Chiefs could be in for a long night. The bulk of the responsibility will fall on the line to create penetration, but it’s up to the linebackers to make the plays, keep the chains from moving and prevent the points from hitting the board.


Buena QB Eric Rainear (5-8, 150) vs. Cedar Creek CB Gary Melton (5-11, 182). Rainear hasn’t thrown a ton this year, but when he has, he’s been effective. In fact, he’s the CAL’s most efficient passer, completing nearly 70 percent of his throws. Cedar Creek’s best two athletes, Mitchell and Melton, patrol the secondary and Rainear needs to be aware of them any time he draws his right arm back to fire a pass.


Buena CB David Bond (6-0, 165) vs. Cedar Creek WR/TE Nolan Seward (6-0, 186). Bond has been the ballhawk for the Chiefs this year and he’s an excellent open field tackler. He has recorded an interception in each of the Chiefs’ last two contests. Seward is Mitchell’s favorite target and has four touchdowns and nine receptions this season. He averages more than 23 yards a grab. Bond will need to be at his best to contain Seward. Mitchell’s next favorite target is Melton.

Keys to the Game


Buena can’t get into a shootout. Sure, the offense has been strong, but if the defense doesn’t step up in a major way against Mitchell, it’s going to be hard for even the talented group of Chiefs running backs to keep up.


Health. This is easily Buena’s toughest test to date, and it’s going to be all hands on deck. Any player spending more than a couple plays on the sideline for anything more than a breather could spell major trouble. If any of the Chiefs’ two-way players leave the game, Buena’s role of being the underdog just got that much worse.


Tackling. It’s football 101, but poor tackling led to Lower Cape May’s only points last week. If the Chiefs get to Mitchell, they need to bring him down, not let him break tackles and bounce around for big gains. The secondary will need to be big in the open field. Bond has been solid all year making open field tackles, but he hasn’t seen anything like Mitchell yet.

Intangibles


Confidence: Three weeks, three wins. Regardless of the opponent, the Chiefs know what it feels like to win and want to keep that feeling alive.


Momentum: A little different than confidence, the Chiefs are just rolling right now. Hot teams tend to stay hot. Lucky bounces seem to go the right way. A couple bad drives and a big penalty here or there can easily derail that. Buena needs to be at its best from the opening whistle to the final buzzer.


Home cooking: Buena was certainly hyped to play in front of its home fans last week and it will need to come out with the same kind of fire again this week in the friendly confines of John J. Zucal Athletic Complex.

Prediction

Cedar Creek 28,

Buena 21

— Patrick Buganski

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