LEETONIA — Tonight’s Division VII playoff match is a battle of a program on the rise in opposition to a program that has had one shedding document for the reason that flip of the century.

Recent off their first playoff win since 2004, the Leetonia Bears host their former Inter Tri-County League rivals McDonald.

The Bears, who have been voted Tenth within the AP Division VII state ballot, have seen an enormous turnaround for the reason that hiring of coach Paul Hulea.

He’s ready the children for what would be the hardest recreation for this system shortly, by reminding them that each recreation from right here on out goes to be harder.

“One actuality of enjoying soccer is that each week the groups you play, preserve transferring on and the groups get higher,” Hulea stated. “They don’t worsen.

“McDonald’s an incredible, nice soccer workforce. They’ve an incredible program they usually’ve received a number of nice gamers. We’re going to should have an excellent effort from our guys to have the ability to compete in opposition to them.”

The Blue Devils (6-1), have solely misplaced as soon as this season, dropping a 49-13 contest to Springfield and are coming off a 26-14 win over Jackson-Milton within the first spherical.

“We performed progressively higher because the season went alongside, like each coach needs to see occur,” McDonald coach Dan Williams stated. “Enjoying our greatest soccer come playoff time. We performed actual effectively final week, we simply made too many errors early on … I believe our season has progressed rather well, like we’ve anticipated it to.”

Bears working again Marco Ferry has been a pressure all season for Leetonia, scoring 4 touchdowns for the Bears of their playoff win over Buckeye Central per week prior.

For the Blue Devils to depart with a win, Williams says his workforce wants to have the ability to shut down the run.

“They’re only after they’re in a position to run the ball with Ferry and when he positive factors some yards and scores touchdowns they’re actually efficient, they usually’re powerful to beat, so we’re going to should restrict their working assault,” he stated.

McDonald’s common season schedule supplied a stable preparation for a great run recreation, because the Mahoning Valley Athletic Convention Scarlet Tier has a number of groups with a great dashing assaults, together with the Blue Jays, who they simply beat.

“That’s a bonus,” Williams stated. “Week in and week out we battled in opposition to good working soccer groups. Jackson-Milton did a pleasant job per week in the past. That (Sean) Lengyel child is a heck of a runner they usually have a giant, robust line. A whole lot of similarities between Jackson-Milton and Leetonia.”

On the opposite aspect of the sphere, Leetonia’s plan going into this recreation is to not give McDonald any items. Ball safety is the highest precedence.

“I do know it’s a training cliche, however the large factor is we’ve received to maintain the soccer,” Hulea stated. “We’ve received to maintain the soccer and never give them a brief discipline. We will’t assist them out any. We confused that to our talent guys. Defensively, we’ve received to rally, as a result of their quarterback (Dom Schadl) is excellent. We’re going to have to essentially rally and do an incredible job of tackling him.”

The Bears have gone from 0-10 in 2017, the season earlier than Hulea’s hiring, to 6-1 this season. The expansion the workforce has proven in that point has shocked even the teaching employees.

“We’ve completed a variety of issues this yr that, once we began out three years in the past, we didn’t know we’d be at this level,” Hulea stated. “We truly received the primary playoff win on this new league. The league is 1-11 and we’ve got the winner. We might be the reply to a trivia query.

“It’s thrilling. We’re joyful for the children. They’re jazzed up, they’re enthusiastic about transferring on they usually deserve it. They’re an incredible group of younger males they usually have nice exercises they usually get pleasure from going to observe daily.”

Final week’s win over the Blue Jays was presumably the final recreation held at A.A. Burkey Stadium, as the brand new stadium is more likely to be up and working for subsequent season. Whereas the workforce needs they might stay at house, being the underdog on the highway isn’t one thing that scares them.

“It’s an incredible matchup,” Williams stated. “We want we have been on our house website after all, however occurring the highway and being the underdog, our children are up for that problem.”

The winner of this recreation will advance to the regional semifinal the place they may tackle both second-seeded Lucas or Tenth-seeded Independence.

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