LUCAS – It’s the top two Division VII teams in the state battling for a league championship.
Yeah, Lucas and Danville may be small villages, but this is a big, big game.
“They started selling presale tickets Monday morning bright and early, and I think they’re selling quite a few,” Lucas football coach Scott Spitler said.
Both teams are 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-Buckeye Conference. Danville, ranked No. 1 in the latest AP poll, is second in its playoff computer region, while the second-ranked Cubs are second in their region as well but have already clinched a postseason berth, according to JoeEitel.com.
“I’ve got texts and phone calls from different individuals I’ve had contact with over the years that are going to the game. We’ve got alumni from Lucas who are no longer in the Lucas community, but they’re coming back for it. It’s just so exciting,” Spitler said.
Danville’s football stadium can accommodate roughly 2,000 people, but Blue Devils Athletic Director Matt Moore said more will come through the gate.
“They better get there early. The end zones will be packed with people, I’m sure,” Moore said. “It will be a good concession game, too, and will be good for our gate. We had Crestline and (Fremont) St. Joseph at home and they didn’t bring a lot, so this will help make up for that.”
The two villages’ combined populations are less than 1,700, so this is a game that has grabbed the attention of many high school football fans in north central Ohio.
“They’re waiting for Friday to get here, and it can’t get here soon enough,” Moore said.
The teams go about their business in different ways, but the results are similar.
Danville uses a spread attack so it can free space for Ridge “Shakey” Durbin, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound quarterback who likes to run as much as he passes. Meanwhile, Lucas employs the wing T, bunching up the formations tightly behind the line that has double tight ends and double wings.
The Blue Devils are averaging 54.1 points per game and have been held below 40 just twice. Lucas averaged 46.9 points and has scored more than 40 four times.
“When they are as talented as they are and you’re talking about shutting them down, it’s not going to happen,” Spitler said. “They are too experienced at the quarterback position. We have to make sure we communicate well defensively and make them earn every yard.
“Offensively, we have to be who we are. We didn’t get to 8-0 trying to be somebody else. We have to control the clock. The team that has less penalties and less turnovers and is able to create big plays for itself and prevent big pays for the other team is the one who will come out on top Friday night.”
Last year, both teams made the playoffs, but Danville won the game in Lucas 28-14. The Blue Devils’ biggest improvement in 2015 has come on the defensive side. A year ago, they allowed almost 26 points per game; this year they’ve given up just 32 points all season. Loudonville snapped a five-game shutout streak by the Devils with a late TD in the fourth quarter of a 49-6 loss.
The Lucas defense isn’t quite as stingy, but the Cubs have allowed no more than 14 points in a game with three shutouts.
“I’m proud of our kids. They’ve worked so hard to put themselves in this situation and earned this opportunity,” Spitler said. “I’m pleased so far this week with how they are prepared.”
Spitler said his team hasn’t showed any signs of nervousness with such a big game looming this week. As for the rest of the community?
“They’re excited and they’re ready,” Spitler said. “I think some of them are ready to play right now.”
Just get there early.