2015 U-E PLAYOFF SCOUTING REPORT AND BEYOND
written by TJM
For the second time in 3 weeks, Maine-Endwell will take on its rival from down the road, this time with more at stake than just homecoming pride. Having secured home field advantage, the Spartans, now 8 and 0 in regular season play, enter the section four semi-final primed and ready to host U-E. Despite having suffered a fairly lopsided 37-7 loss in their first meeting, the Tigers played tougher than their scouting report and in true Tiger fashion, placed some motivated competitors on the field. An ailing Maine-Endwell, while reserving promise from all corners of their depth chart, will need to remain ever vigilant if they’re to get through U-E, not to mention the winner of this weekend’s JC vs. Vestal contest. To find themselves section four champions in 2015, the Spartans will undoubtedly face two tough games, one of which will be Union-Endicott tomorrow night.
As has typically been the case for the Spartans in recent years, the one opponent that they have not been able to run over, pass behind, or sweep around has been injury among their own ranks. 2015 has been no different where key player injuries are concerned. In fact at least three starters have logged extended time on the bench this season due to an injury of one form or another. Fullback Cordell Woolfolk was barely able to get out of the gates in 2015 before discovering that defensive coordinators had designed their defenses around his considerable running threat. Just as he was becoming comfortable carrying the extra load of personnel (from the opposing team) on his back, he suffered an ankle injury that saw him out for at least three successive games. With most teams having perhaps keyed too heavily on Woolfolk, the running talents of Jon Cerra quickly became apparent as he began tearing through seams off-tackle and around the end. Cerra too had really begun to gel in his new status as prime-time running back and was racking up big numbers before he was also prematurely benched with an ankle injury. Rounding out a late season replete with physical hardship, senior A-back Drew Gallagher sustained a season ending ACL injury in last week’s game against Ithaca. While Gallagher’s speed and ability to place the ball in the end zone will certainly be missed, he will be joined by injured placekicker Alec Greene who also went down with knee as well as shoulder issues. Greene too had really begun to find his niche’ on the 2015 Spartans, placing many extra points through the uprights for Coach Gallagher and giving M-E a solid second option to follow up primary scoring drives with.
Then there’s the opposing talent out there looking beat injury to the punch and end the dreams of Maine-Endwell the old fashioned way. U-E’s running back Josh Greenwood was deployed heavily in the second half of M-E’s first meeting with the Tigers and helped to prove that U-E could in fact use a ground game to move the ball against the Spartan defense, or at least one iteration of it. The six foot Greenwood weighing in at 230lbs. this year turns in an impressive 4.7 – 40 and runs with exceptional balance. He was able to find space on several rushing efforts throughout most of the third and fourth quarters. Greenwood’s runs were made more effective when U-E placed #25 at quarterback and ran the option. By that point U-E looked like a team that could really effect some damage on a given day if allowed to create consistency with this look. Like U-E, both JC and Vestal have some flashes of real talent in their midst as well. JC sent a hard rushing in Dominic Nadz through every available gap and around every corner during the 2015 Sparcat. He too was a pure menace frustrating middle linebackers in the Spartan secondary and a player that M-E will be keenly aware of should they meet again for a title. JC as a whole played Maine-Endwell as well as any team that the Spartans have met in the past five years. If JC executes the same type of spread offense they showed in their first outing against M-E, the degree of difficulty for the Spartans earning a second victory in 2015 could escalate considerably.
That said, they should all be preparing in overtime for the next two weekends of football. Despite M-E being the overwhelming favorite in pretty much anybody’s book, there are four very good teams fighting to get out of section four for a crack at the Class A state playoffs.