ATTICA - Nothing against the teachers in the Carey school system, but after tonight, math will either be the favorite subject of the football players, or the least favorite.
After a dominating performance by the Blue Devils in a 35-0 victory against Seneca East, the playoff fate of the team rests in the numbers. If Sandusky St. Mary beats Margaretta tonight, the math will fall in Carey's favor and send the Blue Devils to Lima Central Catholic next Saturday in a first-round Division V Region 18 playoff game. A Margaretta win adds up to Carey being on the outside looking in with an 8-2 record, while Collins Western Reserve takes the final spot.
There were many factors that came into play to decide which teams got in the playoffs, and which teams did not, but the only thing Carey could control was the way it played when it made the trip to Attica.
"We worked all season long from two-a-days 'til this point to not end up coming out here and losing and not being able to get there, so we worked all week," Carey lineman Bryce Mullholand said. "We want the playoffs real bad."
It sure seemed like the Blue Devils came out playing with a purpose. It took just 48 seconds for Carey to light up the scoreboard.
On the game's second play from scrimmage, Austin Tschanen broke through the Seneca East defense and rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown. Less four minutes later, Carey struck again with Bryan Powers scampering 73 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Carey lead.
"We wanted to set the tone quick," Mullholand said. "We figured if we jumped on them early, they'd get down a bit. ... We wanted to come out here, play in the rain and have fun in the mud."
"I was kind of surprised. We were able to hit a couple big runs there and broke a couple tackles. It wasn't that they weren't there, because they were, they were up there," Carey coach Todd Worst said of the Seneca East defense stacking the box to stop Carey's run game. "We were able to slip a tackle and later in the quarter we weren't. Just kind of by chance, we hit a couple early."
While Carey was racking up the yardage, Seneca East's defense was stuck in the mud.
Between the weather hampering the Tiger passing game, and a strong defensive effort from Carey, Seneca East was held to just two first downs and 1 net yard of offense in the first half.
"I'm not going to lie to you, I watched the weather all week. This was the exact opposite of the night I wanted," Seneca East coach Ed Phillips said. "We're a wide-open team that wants to throw the football and get in space and sling it around. Twenty-five mile-per-hour winds and hard rain all night is something that doesn't exactly go along with that. But we played well in it before.
"There was some chances we had, some opportunities we had, we just didn't capitalize on them."
Powers added a second touchdown run in the second quarter as Carey went into the locker room with a 21-0 advantage on the scoreboard, and a 278-1 advantage in yardage.
"Give all the credit in the world to Carey, cause they do a great job executing that offense," Phillips said. "It's always a difficult offense to defend because it's unique and they run it so well and sometimes it takes you a little while to see it and adjust to it. I thought the first quarter, obviously, they came out and hit us fast with it, but I thought our kids adjusted to it and I thought we made some plays. We played pretty well second through the fourth quarter defensively."
"We wanted to make sure that we came out and we executed like we should," Worst said. "The field really isn't in too bad of shape. It's really nice compared to ours after last week. So we wanted to make sure that we got our blocks and we did things the way we're supposed to. A little bit a rain, some of the passing teams don't like that and I think that was to our benefit tonight. We figured that if you want to play late in the season and you want to play well, then you need to take care of the ball and have some linemen that can do the job, and they did a good job tonight."
The linemen did their job, paving the way for 395 yards rushing, with three backs tallying 115 yards or more.
Tschanen led the way with 150 yards on 14 carries, and Justin Meek racked up 116 on 12 attempts and tacked on a touchdown of his own in the third quarter. Powers finished with 115 yards on 10 carries.
"We're just preaching in our heads, four yards each play that's what we try to do," Mullholand said. "We feel like if we do that, we do our job and the running backs get as many yards as possible.
"Its pretty nice. It feels real good. Coming in tomorrow, looking at the papers, seeing we had three guys we know we did our jobs."
The Carey defense did its job pretty well, too.
The Blue Devils never allowed Seneca East to get in an offensive rhythm. The Tigers finished the night with 50 yards of offense and only three plays over 10 yards.
"Even when I played back in the eighties, Carey was always been defense, defense, defense, defense," Worst said. "We understand with all the spread teams we're playing, the chance of you holding somebody to zero points is pretty slim. ... to perform like that is pretty good. We're pretty proud of the defense."
The defense even added a score of its own when Meek scooped up a fumble and scampered 27 yards for the game's final touchdown.
"When it rains, it pours," Phillips said. "That's what went through my head. ... when they scooped that fumble up at the end of the game and took it in.
"I was real pleased with the effort and how hard our kids hit and played in the second half. We had a couple nice drives, we didn't finish them off. At one point I thought we were going to put one or two in the end zone and I knew our defense was playing good, and I thought, maybe we'll give ourselves a chance to rally in the end. Then they scoop it and score, and that was kind of symbolic of the night, I guess."
Seneca East finishes with its second-straight 7-3 season.
"That's the first thing I told them when we came in," Phillips said. "I said 'I'm not going to dwell on this game, 'cause this isn't what our season was. I'm proud of the season we had."