Here we go!
The anticipated battle is here between not just the two best teams in the SAC, but the battle between the best two teams in the area.
The main common ground so far is that they’ve both beaten Warren Central and one did it more impressively than the other. So, are we ready for a war at Spuller Stadium on Friday night?
WHATS ON THE LINE
No, seriously. Yeah, we get you A Division and B Division, blah blah blah. The winner of this game will win the SAC.
We got some clarity finally in how this new SAC works, but at the end of the day, its 2-0 Snider and 2-0 Carroll and we have little reason to think that 2-0 Homestead will play a factor in how this all works out (sorry Sparty).
Even if the title isn’t exactly on the line in this one in terms of clinching, the bragging rights between these two teams has gotten pretty important over the last couple of years. Snider versus Carroll never ceases to amaze in one way or another, so don’t expect any less this time.
These two teams lost a combined one regular season game last season – Carroll’s Week 2 win 28-21 over the Panthers. In fact, the duo have combined for just three regular season losses in the last two seasons, two of which have been Snider falling to Carroll.
In 2022, Snider ran more plays and had more first downs, but Carroll had more yardage. The Chargers opened the game with a touchdown and then in the second quarter saw their first three possessions go umble, fumble, safety. But the Chargers still scored one more before the half to walk into the locker room with the lead and scored on two of their five second-half possessions. It was those two second half scores: a Jimmy Sullivan to Jayden Hill TD and a Braden Steely rush that pushed Carroll over the top. Snider finished the scoring with a Luke Haupert run with 3:05 to play, but had to punt on the next possession.
While Haupert threw the ball for 197 yards, Uriah Buchanan ran for 85 for the Panthers offense and Lukas Rohrbacher‘s two sacks led the Snider defense. For Carroll, it was a masterful 20-of-24 passing game from Sullivan for 254 yards that led the way, followed by Nate Starks‘ 73 yards on the ground; Jorge Valdes and Max Wiard each led the Carroll defense with seven tackles while Valdes also picked off a pass.
Carroll has won the last two meetings by a combined eight points and their coach Doug Dinan, a former Snider assistant, is 5-6 against Snider dating back to 2015 when the Chargers joined the SAC. But while Snider leads the series in that time, Carroll has won three in a row and five of the last six.
The only hiccup in that time for Carroll was a 2019 regular season loss by just one point.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cameron Lentz of Carroll had a solid game last week as one of the team leaders in tackles. More importantly, he had two tackles for loss and his ability to get into or near the Snider backfield for first contact is something to keep an eye on. Carroll has to stop the Panthers on the ground early and have several options to do so with Lentz standing out the most with how he helped bottled up the Dwenger run game last Friday.
Ke’ron Billingsley of Snider is quite dynamic and has proven his worth as a quarterback is far more than just as a pass thrower. His completion rates have been solid, including going 9 of 12 last Friday, but his reads have been great for Snider coming into this game. Billingsley has done a tremendous job of tucking the ball and taking off with it as a real speed back option out of the QB spot.
KEY FOR CARROLL: WIN THE TRENCHES
The front lines have to play their best game of the season, period. Snider’s defense is arguably the area’s best and it will want to get into the Carroll backfield early and often. The unit has four sacks and five tackles for loss this season, but more importantly, they just aren’t giving up a lot of yardage. And sure, all of that credit doesn’t just go to the trench guys, but they have also forced opposing quarterbacks into some uncomfortable throws and have picked off eight passes in four games, including three by Levi Overholser.
But giving its offense enough time isn’t enough for Carroll, because it has to find a way to stop the Snider run game, which has been perhaps more dynamic than many expected. Uriah Buchanan is a monster physically and has proven such while Ke’ron Billingsley can do a lot when taking off with the ball from the quarterback position.
KEY FOR SNIDER: BE AWARE OF #8
It was going to be practically impossible for Jimmy Sullivan to start this season as good as he did last season. But the Carroll QB1 is a major problem for defenses and should be treated as such. Any mojo Sullivan may not have had he gained last week in a 298- yard passing outing against Bishop Dwenger. Much has been made about Carroll’s front line not protecting Sullivan as much as we saw last year, so Snider will look to exploit that. Yet, Sullivan is such a talented reader of defenses that he is going to pick apart any weakness he sees, as long as he has time.
Snider’s defense has been stellar so we are going to expect it to be able to keep that up. The Panthers’ total tackles are actually above the national average according to MaxPreps. Their five sacks over four games have pushed opposing offenses back over 40 total yards, which is stellar. Snider wants to get at Sullivan and rattle him.
Check back for Blitz’s picks on Thursday to find out!