MIAMISBURG, Ohio - Let the buildup begin for next week's heavyweight bout in the Division II regional final.
La Salle continued its march to a fourth straight Division II title by overmatching Sidney on defense and offense in an easy 41-6 Division II semifinal win Friday night. It was a good tuneup for the Lancers' biggest test yet against Winton Woods next week.
The Lancers have resurrected their defense from a 42-7 crushing by defending Division I champion St. Xavier six weeks ago. They have held their last five opponents to 10 points or less.
After gaining over 427 yards a week ago, Sidney managed just 153 yards against the Lancers. It was just the second time all season Sidney scored less than 30 points.
Coming into the game, Sidney senior running back Isaiah Bowser had rushed for over 2,600 yards and 29 touchdowns, but La Salle held him to a season-low 67 yards. The Lancers also forced two turnovers.
Meanwhile, La Salle scored early and often against the Sidney defense. Senior quarterback Griffin Merritt threw four touchdown passes, including two in the first quarter. The first was just two minutes into the game on an 11-yard connection to Jake Roberts. The second was a 49-yard score to Jake Seibert.
Merritt found Roberts and Seibert again in the third quarter when La Salle scored three touchdowns to start the second half. Both Seibert and Roberts had two catches apiece and both resulted in scores.
The Lancers' rushing game gained 253 yards, spread out among eight running backs. Cameron Porter led the charge with 88 yards to go with his touchdown in the second quarter. The Lancers offense finished the night with 438 total yards and 27 first downs. The offense had the ball for over 11 minutes longer than the Sidney offense.
La Salle (10-2) couldn't have picked a better time to put everything together with Winton Woods (11-1) posing the biggest threat yet to their state title reign in next week's regional final.
The Warriors have one of the best offenses in the state, scoring 113 points in their two playoff games, including a 52-21 domination of Anderson Friday night. La Salle, which lost 18-15 to Winton Woods in Week 5, has outscored its playoff opponents 86-16.
Only Elder (the only team to beat Winton Woods) and Indianapolis Chatard have held the Warriors under 35 points since that Sept. 22 game with La Salle.
The Lancers probably won't shut down Winton Woods but they don't want to get in a shootout with them either. The lower the score the better for La Salle.