It is a clash between two teams playing their best football and doing it at the right time of the year.
Reigning state champion La Salle looks to defend its Division II, Region 6 title versus a Kings squad that is coming off a huge win over league rival Turpin. Now they have the unenviable task of trying to stop the Lancers, who are in the midst of one of the most dominant two-year playoff runs the area has ever seen.
Kings will look to end that run and make history with an upset victory that would secure the program’s first-ever regional title. There is plenty of motivation for the underdog Knights. A tested LaSalle team better not let its guard down.
KINGS KNIGHTS (11-1) vs. LaSALLE LANCERS (10-2)
Kickoff: Friday 7:30 p.m. at Firebird Stadium (Lakota West HS)
Follow on Twitter @TSFootball
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Kings’ offense flows through quarterback Tyler Knecht. The junior has accounted for 3,061 yards of total offense (2,263 passing, 798 rushing) and 32 total touchdowns (18 passing, 14 rushing). Avery Koller has pitched in with 1,218 yards and 21 touchdowns rushing. Koller has been slowed over the last three weeks, gaining only 90 total yards during that time. Sophomore Justin Wise has emerged as a real threat for the Knights this postseason. Wise has 16 receptions for 289 yards with four scores in Kings two playoff victories.
LaSalle running back Jeremy Larkin is arguably the best player in Ohio. The senior has amassed 2,387 all-purpose yards (1,531 rushing, 576 receiving) on 195 touches and 31 total touchdowns (23 rushing, eight receiving). Lancers quarterback Nick Watson has taken some of the load off of Larkin down the stretch, recording season highs in passing yards three times in the last five weeks.
TEAM TRENDS: Since losing to Turpin in Week 4, Kings has not given up more than 17 points in a contest. The Knights’ rush defense has held five of those opponents to 83 yards or less on the ground. None of the eight foes in that span have scored more than one rushing touchdown in a game.
LaSalle has won its last six playoff games by 38, 36, 35, 35, 32 and 32 points. Dating back to last year, the Lancers have won seven playoff tilts in a row while averaging 47.0 points per outing with an average margin of victory 31.8 points per game (and rising).
KINGS’ KEYS TO VICTORY: The Knights have to control the clock with their offense. That has to come from a balanced attack. Kings has the weapons to spread out LaSalle. Limiting the Lancers’ possessions will keep the score down. The lower the score the better Kings chances are to come away with a victory.
LaSALLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The defense needs to put pressure on Knecht. Getting the Kings’ quarterback out of his rhythm and limiting the Knights number of plays is a must. That will afford the Lancers’ high-scoring offense do what they do best, apply the heat by finding the end zone.
Prediction: LaSalle 42, Kings 21