After an impressive 38-7 win at Crestview last week, the state-ranked Flyers (6-0, 3-0) stay in the Ashland area with Friday’s Firelands Conference game at Mapleton (3-3, 1-2).
The Mounties are coming off a 40-14 win over South Central last week, and boast an offense that averages 35.6 points per game. Logan Pharmer was the All-FC first team quarterback as a sophomore last season, and is again having another strong year.
In last week’s win over the Trojans, Pharmer (5-foot-9, 160) was 21-of-35 passing for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
“They are a very dangerous team led Logan Pharmer,” St. Paul coach John Livengood said. “He’s a very accurate passer and an athletic player with good pocket presence, and he moves around well. He has good-sized linemen and they do a nice job spreading the field with their athletic skilled position players.”
Wingback Ethan Hartley (5-9, 170) and Sam Mullins (5-10, 180) along with four-year starter Parker Rohr (5-10, 160) are Pharmer’s top targets offensively.
Head coach Robert Mahaney is in his fourth year at Mapleton, and has led a huge turnaround by the Mounties. Mapleton is 25-24 overall entering Friday’s game under Mahaney, who took the program to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2013 and 2014.
That included the school’s only playoff victory in 2014, where the Mounties then rematched with St. Paul in the second round of the Division VII playoffs at Bellevue. The Flyers won that game, 41-6, en route a fifth state championship game appearance.
“I really think Rob is one of the best coaches we go against,” Livengood said. “And he gets a lot out of his kids and does a great job with his schemes. Just a great coach, and it’s a little bit of a tough environment with being down there — and it seems like the weather is always nasty and it’s kind of looking that way forecast-wise. But they present a lot of challenges, especially offensively with what they have with their skilled kids.”
The Mounties have struggled defensively, allowing 33.3 points per game.
Kaleb Ambrose (6-0, 200) along with Rohr return as four-year starters on the defensive line.
“Rohr is one of the best athletes in the conference and he does a lot for them,” Livengood said. “They have a number of those kids on defense that were starting four years ago in the playoffs against us. it’s the same type of athleticism on defense.”
In last week’s win over the Cougars, St. Paul — ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press state poll in Div. VII — had another complete performance.
“Just real happy with the kids and their mental approach last week,” Livengood said. “They worked hard throughout the week and worked hard at executing the game plan, and it’s one of those things where you’re going against an option offense that stretches the perimeter with their speed and athletic QB — it requires a lot of discipline on defense.
“We took pretty good care of the ball and played good special teams,” he added. “I was happy with the overall execution, there is still plenty of room for us to improve.”
The Flyers will enter Friday’s game averaging 42 points and 421.2 yards per game. Defensively,
Six different running backs, Thane Crabbs, Noah Good, Cam Caizzo, Eli Meyer, Nate Winslow and Brandon Saldusky, have from 144-to-384 yards rushing with a combined 23 TDs.
Nick Lukasko is 40-of-54 passing for 898 yards with 9 TDs and 1 INT, while Paul Pearce has 10 catches for 188 yards and a TD, and Joey Catalano has nine catches for 255 yards and 2 TDs.
St. Paul has allowed just three TDs — all in the fourth quarter — for an average of 3.5 points per game.
Noah Good has 76 tackles (10 for loss) with two interceptions, while Sam Meyer adds 56 tackles and Luke Nickoli has 54 tackles and two sacks. Catalano is 34-of-34 on extra points and has four field goals.
“I’m looking at how much we have improved over the last three or four weeks, and I’m happy with our progress,” Livengood said. “We have to continue to trend in that direction, but we are continuing to improve and continue to get better.”