Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, October 09, 2009's Tony Nicolette: Weekly Gliac Column

#1 Grand Valley (5-0, 6-0) at Hillsdale (3-2, 4-2)

Hillsdale looks to rebound from the perplexing beat-down they took in Findlay last week. That bounce-back will be the tallest of tasks as the Chargers take on the top-ranked Lakers who have looked increasingly polished over the last couple of weeks. It's Homecoming in Hillsdale, and the atmosphere should be outstanding as the Chargers welcome GV to Muddy Waters Stadium for the first time since the 2005 season.

Grand Valley Keys:
- Courage at Corner - With the loss of Robert Carlisle a few weeks ago, the GV CB's instantly became a youth-based group that is long on talent but short on experience. Several have stepped up and looked solid thus far, and they'll need to walk tall again in this one as the Hillsdale receiving corps is likely the most talented the Lakers have seen to date. While the Chargers have been more a "run first" bunch of late, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of airing things out and the young corners will need to be ready.
- Be Up Front - Similar to the receiving corps, the Hillsdale defensive front will be one of the better ones faced by GV thus far. Despite replacing three starters, the Laker offensive line has been pretty good thus far and has started to gel. Keeping Iciek upright and the running lanes open will be challenges in this one.

Hillsdale Keys:
- Pass or Panizzi? - HC has been very run-centric of late. With the Lakers yielding less than three yards per carry and 85 yards per game in league play (both GLIAC bests), QB Troy Weatherhead finding Patillo, Holmes, Kegg and Blanchard may prove the more attractive (and necessary) option. In either case, how the Hillsdale offensive line fares in its size vs. speed battle against the GV front will be interesting to watch.
- Can they Ice Iciek? - The Hillsdale pass defense hasn't been especially porous in terms of yards, but it has been a weak link at times in slowing down opponents. They're tenth in the league in pass efficiency defense, yielding 10 TD's and almost a 65% completion percentage. GV QB Brad Iciek thrives on being economical/efficient and exploiting weaknesses, so the Chargers (especially in the secondary) will have to be in top form. Some pressure from Drew Berube and his mates would certainly help curb Iciek's effectiveness.

Prediction - One thing GV Coach Chuck Martin says he dreads is having to face an opponent that is coming off of getting smoked. The Chargers lost the last 40 minutes of their game at Findlay a week ago by a 42-3 margin. Smoked? Yep. With that said, Chuck's troops have been tuning things up for the stretch run, and the Lakers (especially their starting units) have been increasingly sharp over the last couple of weeks. Their next five games come against teams with a combined 21-8 record so any bugs GV may have had need to be worked out by this point. In its two losses, Hillsdale's defense has given up significant yardage (550 last week alone) and has had trouble getting off the field. That's not a good combination when faced with a GV offense that burned them a year ago and has more weapons this year than last. Grand Valley 37, Hillsdale 17.

full column

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