By Ken Barhorst
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Lehman Cavaliers have bounced back to take two in a row and put themselves back in the hunt for a postseason playoff berth.
The Cavs thrashed Graham two weeks ago, and routed Upper Scioto Valley after a slow start last week to even their record on the year at 2-2 heading into another home game Friday night at Sidney Memorial Stadium against Lima Perry, which is also 2-2 on the year.
Lehman’s defense came up huge last week in the 39-18 win over Upper Scioto Valley in Northwest Central Conference play at Lehman. Three of the Cavs’ six touchdowns in the game came on interceptions returned for scores. Two of them were by Dylan Arnold of 50 and 55 yards, and Logan Richard also came up with a pick-6 from about 20 yards out late in the game.
“Last week, we didn’t have a lot of energy when we took the field,” Roll said. “And we had some missed assignments. So we got off to a slow start. But it came on. Defensively, we didn’t stop their run real well but those interceptions were the difference in the game. One of those picks was critical near the end of the first half.
“Our whole secondary played well,” Roll said. “Owen Smith, Kam Lee, Dylan (Arnold). Even our outside linebackers. And offensively, I thought Kam Lee and Michael Bunker had good games. Elliott (Gilardi, quarterback) played well again and has been performing real well.”
Despite back-to-back wins, Roll isn’t totally pleased with the way the Cavs are playing.
“We’re still not playing as good as we should be,” he said. “We can be better up front on both sides of the ball, and that’s been a key point this week in practice. We’re not where we need to be. We can be a good football team. We proved that in week one (against defending state champion Fort Recovery). But we haven’t played at that level since that night.
“We would like to have a little better record right now, but we’re close to where I thought we’d be,” he added. “We’re getting there.”
The Cavaliers continue play in the NWCC Friday night, hosting the Lima Perry Commodores. So far this season, Perry has beaten 1-3 Antwerp 42-34, lost to 3-1 Allen East 61-20, lost to 2-2 Montpelier 52-39, and beaten 2-2 Ridgemont in league play 37-13. So the Commodores have a high-powered offense that is averaging 34.5 points per game, but the defense is giving up an even 40 points per game.
“Perry is a very athletic team and their quarterback is the real deal,” said Roll. “He’s the kind of player that scares you. He can throw and he can run, and they rely a lot on the big play. They have a lot of weapons, but he’s the main guy. We have to make them drive the ball and keep them from hitting the big play.”
When the two teams met last season in Lima, the Cavs escaped with a 28-25 victory.