Clyde’s defense about it get its stiffest test

Clyde coach Ryan Carter is direct.

His defense has been carrying Clyde during it playoff run to the Region 8 finals. Now, against reigning state champion and No. 1 seeded Toledo Central Catholic, that defense is about to face its greatest test.

Clyde travels to Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green to play the Irish tonight, and Carter said there are plenty of things to look out for.

It starts with quarterback DeShone Kizer, the Notre Dame recruit who threw for more than 2,100 yards and 23 touchdowns in the regular season. But Carter said it doesn’t end with him.

“Not only do they have him, but they have some very good athletes at skill positions,” Carter said. “They’re fast, the put a lot of pressure on you, they project problems on both sides of the ball.”

While Kizer gets plenty of attention, the Irish also have running Tre’Von Wade, who ran for more than 1,200 yards in the regular season, and an offensive line led by Ramone Miles and Christian Ward.

“A lot of the focus has to go on (Kizer),” Carter said. “But you have to be able to defend the whole field.”

Toledo Central Catholic coach Greg Dempsey said he’s impressed with the Fliers’ defense.

“I definitely think so,” Dempsey said when asked if he though Clyde had one of the best defenses his team would see. “Looking at the fact, (us) going against Columbian, knowing what (Clyde) did to Columbian has our attention.”

In last week’s regional semifinals, the Irish bested the Tornadoes 42-13. In Week 1 of the regular season, the Fliers clipped the Tornadoes, 13-7. The Fliers are coming off a 19-6 win over Sandusky Perkins in the semifinals, a contest where Clyde’s defense was dominant.

Clyde is led on defense by linebacker Kade Long, a first-team all district selection who had 10 tackles for loss.

“They’re the type of defense where they want to set the tone and you want to keep them off balance,” Dempsey said. “Their front guys are pretty good. That’s a major concern, handling their front.”

On top of that, Dempsey said the Irish struggled last week in the red zone against the Tornadoes, and that’s an issue that has to be corrected.

“The last month has been really good to us,” Dempsey said. “I was unhappy with our red zone play last week. It will come back and haunt you if [it continues].”

Clyde’s offense hasn’t blown anybody away in recent weeks, but Dempsey said he sees things that concern him.

“In general on both sides of the ball they’re a very physical team,” he said.

Damien Coburn leads the Fliers’ rushing attack after going for more than 700 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season. Receiver Derek Gray also has given opponents problems, as has quarterback Tim Hoppe, who threw for 129 yards against Perkins last week.

Carter said the Clyde offense will be challenged by Toledo Central Catholic.

“The biggest problem, I feel, is they put so much pressure on you,” Carter said. “They bring pressure from every angle.”

The Irish have a pair of dominant linebackers in Chris Green and Paul Moses. The pair combined for 20 tackles for a loss in 2013. Derich Weiland and TeJuan James lead the secondary.

Carter was asked if it’s important for the Fliers to get off to a fast start against the Irish. Carter said it’d be nice, but it’s not the key.

“I think it’s important to stay consistent the entire night,” he said.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.