Kettering Alter Dayton CJ
In local circles it's called, 'The Holy War'. Lately, it's the Greater Catholic League North Championship. To those involved, it's 'The Game'. But, it's more commonly known as the Kettering Alter Knights vs. the Dayton Chaminade-Julienne Eagles and, this year it is for ALL OF THE MARBLES.
Alter has won the last 2 meetings by a combined score of 73-13 and holds an overall advantage in the series 17-12-2. Last year's win meant a GCL North Championship for the Knights and 1st seed in the D-IV playoffs and a subsequent Regional Championship for the 2nd straight year. Of course last year, CJ proceeded to win the state in D-II off their disappointing loss to the Knights.
But none of that matters this weekend. What does matter is, that although both have clinched a playoff spot, the winner this year not only wins the GCL-N Championship and bragging rights for a year but, most likely will win the Division III, Region 12 Playoff Standings as well. A 1st place finish there guarantees a home game against the 8th seeded team in the 1st round. A loss may mean a playoff road trip.
Both teams come in at 4-0 in the GCL and 8-1 overall. Both teams suffered early season losses to eventual playoff teams. CJ lost their opener to Northmont while Alter was shocked in week 2 by Bellbrook. CJ Coach Jim Place has moved the game to Saturday night at Welcome Stadium (kickoff 7:30) so that hopefully his team speed will have an advantage on the artificial turf. One thing is for sure, that move will mean a huge, playoff type of a crowd and atmosphere as well.
This year's rendition of the 'Holy War' is a classic match-up of a high powered, high scoring offense vs. a stingy, hard nose defensive team. CJ is averaging 42 points per game while the Knights yield a mere 12.7.
Offensively, the Eagles are led by GCL Player of the Year candidate, JR RB Javon Ringer, who is averaging an astonishing 10 yards per carry and who has already rushed for almost 2,000 yards with 24 TDS. He is complimented by SR QB Anthony Turner who has completed 62% of his pass attempts and who is just as dangerous out of the pocket. SR WR Ryan Patrick has caught 30 balls for 610 yards and 8 TD's and is a serious punt return threat as well, as is JoJo Smith and Brandon Harrison who are averaging 23 and 30 yards respectively on kick off returns.
On defense, the Eagles are led by Harrison (averaging 6.2 tackles per game), Smith (6.3 tackles) and Rion Robinson (8.6 tackles). Ryan Patrick has 2 interceptions. Harrison has 3 fumble recoveries; 5 other Eagles have 2 each.
Defensively, Alter has been very, very good. Up front they have a very strong, very physical front 8 led by the likes of Seniors Co-Captain Nick Hess (7 tackles per game), Co-Captain Pat Dougherty, Mike Cengia (6.6 tackles), Zach Thuney (6'5" 275 lbs), Chris Vermilion (6'1" 260), Craig Davis, Travis Gaul, Joe Reeves (6'0" 240) and Jon Domansky. The Knights have been especially good against the run giving up only about 100 yards per game on the ground.
The secondary has been stellar as well. Seniors Co-Captain Mike Gorman (8 tackles per game and 2 interceptions), Co-Captain Zach Freshwater (6 tackles; 2 interceptions), Dan Reeves (4 picks; 2 returned for TD'S), Darin Furderer, JJ Walker and Matt Thuney have been consistent all year.
Alter has some offensive weapons of their own, however. JR RB Matt Schaeffer (637 yards) and SR QB Co-Captain Mike Savino (529 yards) rank 4 and 5 respectively in the GCL rushing wise, while Freshwater is averaging almost 23 yards a catch with 3 TD's . Reeves is a speedy, deep threat who has a couple long catches as well and if healthy the 255 lbs Hess can pound defenses inside behind a punishing line that includes Thuney, Vermillion, Reeves, Gaul and 6'2" 270 lbs Steve Bristow, 6'6" 220 lbs John Tytko and 5'9" 250 lbs Kenny Gannon.
Both teams like to run the ball and are 1 and 2 in the GCL-N in rushing yardage. CJ is averaging 425 yards a game; Alter 361. Most likely the team that has the most success on the ground will win. Of course, turnovers will be key too.
No prediction here. This game is a typical rivalry game. Almost anything can happen and probably will this Saturday at Dayton's Welcome Stadium.