Buchanan must stop Constantine to move to the next round

Published 7:02 am Friday, November 5, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
If Buchanan hopes to advance to the regional championship round of the MHSAA football playoffs, it must do the impossible - stop Constantine.
The Bucks face Constantine in the Division 6, Region 3, District 2 final game tonight at 7 p.m. with hopes they can play David to the Falcons' Goliath.
Constantine is 9-1 this season and has outscored it opponents by an average 50-7. Excluding the one loss, a 21-17 setback to Mendon, the average margin of victory jumps to 53-5.
The Falcons, like Buchanan, get it done on the ground. They avearge 400 yards rushing per game and just 28.6 passing. In fact, Constantine has attempted just 20 passes all season.
Perhaps the most telling number of Constantine's dominance is its average yards per play statistic. The Falcons gain 10.2 yards every time they snap the ball.
Buchanan slowed down Union City's offense considerably last week in the Bucks' first ever playoff appearance, winning 24-13.
The Bucks held the Chargers, who averaged more than 400 yards per game in the regular season, to less than 300. Buchanan also limited Union City to 160 less rushing yards than it averaged.
While Buchanan enjoyed its first playoff win in school history last week, postseason victory is fast becoming routine for the Falcons. Constantine made it to the regional finals last year before losing on a last minute touchdown to eventual state champion Ravenna.
In 2002, Constantine made it to the state championship game before losing. What's scary, Austin said, is that this team may be the Falcons' strongest yet.
To stop the Falcons' offense, Austin said Buchanan's defense is going to have to disrupt their flow somehow. That includes using a variety of defensive schemes, coverages and blitzes, he added.
The last time the Bucks ran into a offense as high-powered as the Falcons' was when they squared off with Berrien Springs on Oct. 15. In that game, the Shamrocks racked up 506 yards, 353 on the ground, in a 48-14 victory.
Austin said his team came out flat in that game. The Bucks also appeared to come out flat in the first quarter against Union City, giving up a 15-play touchdown drive to start the game and punting on their first three possessions.
It took Buchanan a quarter to come to life last week, but Austin said his team played well as a whole.
To win, Buchanan must be able to gain yards and score on the Falcons, something Constantine's opponents have struggled with this year. Constantine has shut out three oponents this year and has held eight of 10 teams to less than 200 total yards.
A Bucks' victory would move them to 10-1, the highest win total in school history. Buchanan's current tally of nine victories is the most since the Bucks went 9-0 in 1988 under head coach Frank Mucha.