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Dragons set to take aim at Corry

aclose@timesobserver.com

Coming off the first win over General McLane in program history, the 4-3 Warren Dragons look to continue that positive momentum into tonight’s home finale against Corry.

There will be more motivation, however, for the Dragons.

Not only will this serve as Senior Night, but a win secures back-to-back winning seasons and, in all likelihood, a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2013.

“They have a different vibe to them,” Warren coach Mark Morelli said of his team following the win over GM. “The confidence level is boosted. That (going to the playoffs) is something that’s on the kid’s mind. They want to have that opportunity.”

To do so, they will have to beat a Corry team that is 3-4 and shown improvement under first-year coach Jeff Goodwill. The teams have two common opponents – North East and Fairview. Corry split, falling to North East and beating Fairview last week, while the Dragons have convincing wins over both.

“They’re an improved team,” Morelli said. “They’ve gone from a power team to more of a spread. They’ve got some size to them. “We have to take that momentum from last week and apply it to this week.”

The Dragons got a big boost last week from junior running back James Swanson, who returned after missing a month due to injury.

Swanson, along with quarterback Micah Passmore, both surpassed 100 yards rushing in the win over GM and accounted for both Warren touchdowns.

“He has a certain aura about him and that confidence exudes on the rest of the team,” Morelli said. “I think it picked up the line’s play and picked up Micah Passmore’s play. You could see a little more energy having him back.”

And as far as Passmore goes, the coaching staff has been pleased with the development of the talented junior.

“He’s an athlete, that’s the thing,” Morelli said. “He may not have all the gaudy statistics that these other quarterbacks have, but he gets the job done and he does what we ask him to do. People forget he’s only a junior. He’s developed and come along very well. We’re pleased with his progress. “

Those rushing performances don’t come without strong offensive line play, and the Dragons got that last week, led by seniors Tony Batiste and Jake Hayes, as well as juniors Brent Young and Alex Zeigler, among others. Freshman Alan McAllister has also stepped up and played big for the Dragons.

“We saw some consistency,” Morelli said. “I think our success last week was due to we got the crucial blocks when we needed them and our athleticism shined when we needed it. That run Micah had to win the game for us, that was the combination of a couple of key blocks and his athleticism.”

And while the Dragons featured a more run-heavy attack last week, they know they can always turn to the explosive pair of seniors at receiver, Alex Anderson and Ryan Arnold.

Arnold is just as big a factor in the return game. In fact, Morelli pointed out that special teams played a key role in the win last week. Warren’s Sawyer Mohney made the Dragons first extra-point attempt and McLane missed its first. Both teams failed at 2-point conversion attempts, but that, along with a key tackle in the return game, helped seal the Warren victory.

Defensively, the Dragons will look to do more of the same.

Morelli noted a big difference was that his team was able to get key stops on third and fourth downs, something they failed to do against Oil City.

Jamo Douvlos has been a stalwart at linebacker, leading the squad with 70 tackles and 9 tackles for loss. Easton Hultberg checks in at 45 tackles, 7 1/2 for loss.

“Twice, McLane had fourth downs and twice we stopped them,” Morelli noted. “It’s something we stressed to the kids, game situation, getting off the field on third and fourth down, making the plays. We have to keep 22 (Landen Weis) under control. He’s there main weapon on offense. They like to throw the ball any way they can get it to him.”

Then, there’s the proximity of the two schools, something that, even though it’s not a region game, makes this somewhat of a rivalry.

“Corry is only 30 miles away from here, so indirectly it’s somewhat of a rivalry,” Morelli said. “We know a little bit about them, they know a little bit about us. We’re on friendly terms, but when you step on the football field it’s all about competition.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at War Memorial Field.

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Offensive Stat leaders

Warren – Passmore 49-of-109, 679 yards, 6 TDs, 6 INTs; 77 carries, 496 yards, 8 TDs; Ethan Benedict 40 carries, 217 yards; James Swanson 17 carries, 112 yards; 10 receptions, 90 yards; Ryan Arnold 24 receptions, 279 yards, 3 TDs; Alex Anderson 10 receptions, 278 yards, 2 TDs

Corry – Landen Weis 132 carries, 901 yards, 13 TDs; 10 receptions, 119 yards, 1 TD; Nathan Lesher 46-of-102, 640 yards, 5 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; Nick Lapinski 13 receptions, 228 yards, 2 TDs

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