After holding on to beat Indian Valley, 24-21, in a first-round playoff game, Johnstown raised some eyebrows with a dominating 42-7 win over Ironton in Week 2 of the playoffs.
The Johnnies were suffocating on defense, limiting the Tigers to 153 total yards and offensively, they were clicking on all cylinders.
Senior quarterback Tyler Thompson accounted for five ofJohnstown’s six touchdowns — three rushing and two passing — and the Johnnies racked up 424 total yards.
Johnstown will need another performance like that when they take on top-seeded St. Clairsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a Division IV regional final at Zanesville Sulsberger Stadium.
The Johnnies (10-2) are the defending Region 15 champions, and even though the Red Devils enter the game averaging 50 points per game and have only trailed once all season, Johnstown coach Mike Carter said his focus is on his team.
“We have to concentrate on us and make sure that we take care of the things that we need to do,” Carter said. “We just have to continue to play as a team, play with enthusiasm and give tremendous effort for four quarters.”
Carter likes the way the Johnnies are playing on both sides of the ball.
“We played very fast, and we played gap-sound football against Ironton,” Carter said. “The kids knew their assignments, which allowed them to run and react. We had a great week of preparation, and that’s the key.
“It leads to confidence and enthusiasm, and our guys did a great job in all facets of the game.”
Carter knows it will take that kind of effort against the Red Devils (12-0), who scored the first six times they had the ball in their 59-27 win over Piketon this past week.
St. Clairsville running back Jaylon Brown rushed for 186 yards and six touchdowns on 11 carries. That raised Brown’s season total to 1,379 yards and 27 touchdowns. He has also caught 11 passes for 273 yards and three scores.
Quarterback Matt Kinnick completed 6-of-11 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. On the season, he has passed for 2,071 yards and 28 touchdowns.
“They are a very good team, and they have some nice athletes at the skill positions,” Carter said. “They have good balance and they have threats on the perimeter, and you can tell they are well-coached.
“We have to make sure we play gap-sound and make sure we do a good job in coverage and open-field tackles. Our linebackers also have to make sure they do a great job of reading their keys.”
Carter said another big key will be making in-game adjustments, something they did very well last week against Ironton.
The Tigers opened the game with a 12-play, 76-yard drive that ate 5:43 off the clock to take a 7-0 lead. However, after the Johnnies made their adjustments, defensively, the Tigers were limited to only 77 yards the rest of the way.
“Our players deserve a lot of credit because they prepare so well all week, and that allows us to make the adjustments we need to make,” Carter said. “Everything goes back to being prepared, and when you are, it makes it easier to adjust during games.”