Dragons host LeBoeuf looking to go 2-0

The Warren Dragons are looking for a 2-0 start when they host Fort LeBoeuf at War Memorial Field.

Warren has a chance to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2013 when they welcome Fort LeBoeuf to War Memorial Field tonight in each team’s Region 6 opener.

The two teams couldn’t have got off to more different starts, with the Dragons handling Fairview 31-7 in their opener, while LeBoeuf fell 48-7 to Grove City, currently the fifth ranked team in the state in Class 3A.

Warren head coach Mark Morelli and his staff are quick to point out to their players not to take anything for granted, however.

“Every week is a challenge,” Morelli said. “There’s an old saying in the coaching world, you’re not always as good as you think you are when you win and your not as bad as you think you are when you lose. That’s the message we gave the kids on Monday. Just because we won last week, this is a whole new week, new game, new team. They have to bring their A game.”

Here’s a few things to look for when the two teams kick off at 7 p.m.

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New and improved defense

The Dragon defense was swarming against the Tigers, allowing 200 less total yards then they did the year before against Fairview, which has most of its same personnel returning.

Middle linebacker Aidan Morrison had 15 tackles quarterbacking from his middle linebacker position, while defensive tackle Collin Salapek had three tackles for loss and outside linebacker James Swanson two.

This week, they will face a Fort LeBoeuf team that runs the Wing-T. They were mostly shut down against GC, but Ben Turi did manage 52 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

Cole Dauson is the quarterback and he completed 6-of-13 passes last week for 85 yards and was intercepted twice.

Morelli described the offensive line as ‘big and physical.’

The coaching staff has emphasized staying disciplined and reading keys against an offense that has a lot of moving parts.

“The defense was my concern, and they surprised me and our coaching staff with their performance. Now we know what they are capable of doing, and we expect them to step it up each week and play like they did last Friday,” Morelli said. “What pleases us more than anything else is they grasp the concepts that we’ve taught them, the fronts, blitz’s, all of that stuff. It all came together last week. I have a saying, don’t be at the game, be into the game. If they’re into the game, we’re going to be OK.”

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Spreading the wealth

Jake Kupchella and Devin McMeans were in midseason form in the opener, connecting for three touchdowns, but defense’s would be wise not to focus all of their attention in one spot with the amount of weapons the Dragons have.

“It’s an offense that has a lot of weapons, but they have to go off,” noted Morelli. “I do anticipate teams are going to be more aware of where Devin’s going to be, but at the same time, if they’re doubling him, the other guys have to step up. Those guys are perfectly capable of stepping up.”

Micah Passmore and Morrison also had long receptions last week, and Ryan Arnold and Alex Anderson present two more big threats in the receiving game. Kupchella averaged 27.3 yards per completion against Fairview, showing just how explosive the Dragons’ passing game can be.

LeBoeuf allowed touchdowns on Grove City’s first seven possessions last week, so opportunities figure to be there for Warren’s offense.

The Dragons didn’t run the ball a ton against Fairview, mostly because they didn’t have to, but Marvin Bryant and the offensive line were effective when they did.

As Morelli said, it’s just a matter of taking what the defense is going to give you.

“It depends on the flow of the game, what kind of start we get up to,” Morelli said. “You’re going to have games where you have more passing yards than rushing yards, and the next week it could be the other way around. It all depends on what’s working each week, the feel of the offense, what the coaches see and those types of things.”

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One week at a time

Region 6 is a gauntlet, and getting off to a good start is of the upmost importance. And, despite the start the Bison got off to, Warren knows it can’t afford to relax.

“They see the score and there’s a tendency to relax,” Morelli said. “The talent is in place to have a special year this year. How special? That’s up to the kids, how motivated they are and how well they want to play each Friday night. You can’t take anybody lightly. It’s a very competitive region.”