Kevin Miller’s formula for success is as straight forward as it is effective.
The Solon coach stresses three things year in and year out with his football team — defense, special teams and turnovers.
Over the past several years, that three-pronged approach has helped Solon emerge as one of premier programs in the state.
This season those three key elements have been paramount in the success of third-ranked Solon (9-1) entering tonight’s Class 3A second-round matchup with No. 7 West Delaware (9-1).
“I’ve always been a big believer in three things defense, special teams and turnovers,” Miller said. “Those are three important parts of the game that we always stress, and this season with the team we had we knew they would be extremely important for us.”
It’s tough to be much better in those three areas than Solon has been this season.
On defense the Spartans have continued their recent trend of ranking among the toughest in Class 3A.
Solon is holding opponents to 16.7 points and 231 total yards per game this season.
However, it has been special teams and turnovers where the Spartans have shined the brightest this season.
Solon has committed a modest nine turnovers in 10 games this season and is an impressive plus 15 in turnover margin.
“Turnovers and our ability to take care of the football has played a real pivotal role in our success this year,” Miller said. “It’s something that is always important but when you get to the post-season and this type of the year and it is really magnified.”
Special teams, specifically the return game, has been a big boost for Solon this season.
The Spartans spend 20 to 25 minutes every practice on live special teams work.
Results this season have been evident.
Solon has scored five touchdowns on kick returns, equaling the number of special team scores the Spartans had in the previous three seasons combined.
Senior Brandon Kramer is responsible for four of the Solon special teams’ scores.
Kramer has returned a pair of kick offs and a two punts for touchdowns this season and averages a state-best 31.6 yards per punt return.
Senior Connor Ham has the other return score, a 78-yard kick off return in an opening-round win over Davenport Assumption last Wednesday.
“Special teams is something that we have emphasized and stressed from day one and we’ve really been outstanding on special teams this year,” Miller said. “Coach (Brent) Sands works with our return game and that work has paid big dividends this year.”
Solon will look to continue its success in those three area’s tonight against a West Delaware team that leads Class 3A in total offense at 448.8 yards per game.
The Hawks, who lost at Solon 49-20 in the second round last season, are led by senior quarterback Brent Lammers.
Lammers was injured in the first quarter of last year’s playoff loss to Solon and finished with 4 yards rushing on two carries.
He figures to be a much bigger factor in today’s meeting.
Lammers has run for 1,218 yards and 15 touchdowns, and thrown for 1,330 and 10 scores.
“He is a big strong-armed kid and he does a great job of running the football,” Miller said of Lammers. “He’s like a running back playing quarterback, the way he runs it so it is certainly going to be a challenge for us.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.