City League rivals USO, Allderdice set for rematch
USO took down Allderdice, 43-14, on Oct. 4, but when the two teams square off again less than a month later for the City League championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cupples Stadium, USO will be up against a much improved team.
Coming off a 14-10 win in the semifinals over Brashear, the Dragons were led by their top two playmakers, twins Timothy (quarterback) and James (wide receiver) Jackson, who connected on touchdown passes of 37 and 24 yards.
“First and foremost we have to make sure we limit the success that Allderdice has on offense,” USO coach Lou Berry said. “They have a dynamic sophomore quarterback, and his twin brother is his favorite target as a wide receiver. As I reviewed the film of the playoff game I see that they have gotten a lot better, so we have to keep those two individuals under control.”
USO's 29-point win over Allderdice may seem a bit lopsided, but the game had the potential to be much closer, as the Dragons committed four turnovers inside USO's 20-yard line, a trend Allderdice (5-4) hopes will not continue on Saturday.
“The learning process is pretty much done,” Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett said of his team's preparation. “We've seen them play all year. I don't know how much they're going to do different. We learned we can't turn the ball over in their end of the field, we can't turn the ball over period.”
USO features one of the premier passing attacks in the City League in recent years, led by senior quarterback Ronald Brown and senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson. Brown has thrown for 2,681 yards this season and 25 touchdowns, with 12 of those scores going to Johnson.
Haslett said Allderdice's best defense will be to control the ball and clock on offense, with the help of the Jackson twins and senior tailback Marquis Martin.
“I think we need to be able to run the ball and hold onto it and try to keep it away from them a little bit,” Haslett said. “They are pretty explosive. I've been coaching in this league a long time, and they kind of remind you of the Perry teams of old where if you make them sustain a drive it's hard for them to do, but they can end up going 80 on you in one play. … It's hard to keep a team like that down.”
USO (8-0) will appear in its third straight City League final since the school's inception, with Saturday's game marking a rematch of the 2011 title game that USO won 14-0. It fell to Perry last season.
“A number of our key athletes for Saturday's contest participated in the 2011 championship,” Berry said, “so I think they'll come in with a lot more confidence because they've participated at that stage before.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.