Columbia Raiders host Archbold Blue Streaks, look for first playoff win

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Columbia quarterback Jay Banyasz, pictured, hopes to lead the Raiders to the school’s first playoff win.

The quarterback is the most important position on the field.

On Saturday night, a couple of good ones will be on display, when Columbia (9-1) hosts Archbold (8-2) in a Division V, Region 18 Quarterfinal game.

The Raiders are led by Jay Banyasz, who in his first year as a starter led Columbia to the Patriot Athletic Stripes Division Championship.

Banyasz not only led the Raiders in passing in the regular season with 1,156 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he was also was the team’s leading rusher (738 yards, 13 TDs).

Archbold coach Bryan Miller said his team is well aware of what Banyasz is capable of.

“Obviously he (Banyasz) is a tremendous athlete on both sides of the field,” Miller said. “We’ve got to try to make him one-dimensional.”

The Blue Streaks feature an impressive signal caller as well in Evan Wyse. Wyse has thrown for 2,293 yards with 18 TDs, and has rushed for 764 yards with 14 TDs.

Columbia coach Jason Ward said his defense will have its work cut out for them.

“They have an outstanding quarterback,” Ward said. “They like to spread you out and go five-wide, which is something we haven’t seen a lot of.”

The Raiders are making their fourth playoff appearance, and second in the last three years, while the Blue Streaks are appearing for the first time since 2010.

Although Columbia has had recent regular season success, they are still in search for the program’s first playoff victory.

“Our players are not just happy to be here,” Ward said. “They recognize what’s at stake and they want to get that first postseason win.”

Ward believes the players learned a lot from their last playoff appearance.

“That team in 2010 had high expectations and lived up to them,” Ward said. “This season they set their own expectations and were able to achieve them.”

Ward also said the coaching staff has also learned a lot.

“I think we were distracted in 2010 with everything that surrounds making the playoffs,” Ward said. “Everyone’s focus is on the game and that’s it.”

The Blue Streaks were rolling heading into the playoffs, but lost handily to Liberty Center in Week 10.

Although it was a bad loss, Miller said he’s not worried about a carry-over effect into the playoffs.

“We played a bad game against a very good team,” Miller said. “We’ve had a good week of practice, and we’re fortunate to get another game after a loss, because a lot of teams are at home right now.”

Both teams will try to limit each other’s offensive possessions, but both coaches know they can’t worry too much about the other team’s quarterback.

“We have to do a good job of being balanced and control the clock,” Ward said. “We can’t let them get into rhythm and put together long drives.”

If the Blue Streaks are to be victorious they must win the battle in the trenches, according to Miller.

“Our offensive line has to play better than they did last week,” Miller said. “We have to take of the ball and finish off drives with touchdowns.”


Last Updated: 11/2/2012 8:29:23 PM EST

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