*** (INFO BOX: No. 1 Pierce (5-0) vs. No. 6 Lakeview (4-1) Lakeview High School 7 p.m. RADIO: KLIR 101.1 )***
Lakeview football takes a break from a tough district schedule in Week 6 but not from a tough, quality opponent.
A week after the Vikings suffered their first loss on the road at No. 3 Wahoo Neumann, No. 1 and unbeaten Pierce travels to Columbus for a second straight top-10 matchup with No. 6 Lakeview - previously No. 4 until the loss to the Cavaliers.
The Bluejays are perfect thus far on the season with an opening win over Class C-2 No. 1 Norfolk Catholic followed by point totals of 40 or more in each of the next four wins and more than 50 points three times including a 59-21 victory over local team Scotus Central Catholic and 58-42 shootout with C-1 No. 7 Ord.
"That was a hard-fought football game. We came back Monday and we were still pretty sore and feeling the effects of a tough game. That was something we had to address to make sure the guys are taking care of themselves. Second of all, we just told them to keep playing hard, give great effort and we'll live with the results, whatever they are," coach Kurt Frenzen said. "That was the case the other night. We felt like we played our tails off and played as hard as we could and just came up a little short.
"It's one of those things you can definitely learn from. We talk to the kids about making sure we do that, and if we do, that game will serve a purpose."
Lakeview led Neumann 7-0, trailed 13-7 then went up 22-21 late in the third quarter before a Cavalier drive early in the fourth chewed up over five minutes and ended with a 10-yard touchdown run.
The Viking stalled their next drive with a failed conversion on a fourth-and-5 then couldn't come up with a stop for another possession.
Lakeview gave away two interceptions and a fumble that broke the 13-13 halftime tie.
"Where (Pierce) has as an advantage over most teams is depth," Frenzen said. "Teams we've been playing like Boone Central or Neumann, we have the same or more depth. This is the first time we'll be playing a team where they're deeper than we are.
"Pierce is rotating in basically two lines offensively and defensively. They are very talented up front. That's going to be a challenge, definitely."
That talent up front is evident in the way Pierce has generated offensive success. The Bluejays use their depth and ability to establish the line of scrimmage and lean on that advantage all game long.
In the win over Scotus, Pierce trailed 7-3 then scored the next six touchdowns in a row while racking up 576 rushing yards. Carson Oesreich accounted for 190 of that total but three others ran for 93 yards or more.
When opponents are being beaten on the line and concentrating on the run, Pierce uses play action to set up a deep throw.
Countering Bluejay talent will be what Frenzen might call the resiliency of his group. The Vikings learned valuable lessons last week and consider themselves a battle-tested group ready for the gauntlet that is the final month of the season.
"We played our tails off, and we came up a little short, but I think the advantage is we played that game already. We've been in that four-quarter, down-to-the-wire struggle. It didn't turn out the way we wanted to, but we've been there," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be in that same circumstance on Friday night. If we are, we feel like last week will pay dividends for us."
Pierce has only trailed for 3:36 all season.
"What they do, they do very well, and they're a very physical football team," Frenzen said. "Boone Central and Neumann are both comparable, but Pierce has something most other teams don't, and that's a lot of depth. They have a lot of guys they can bring in and not miss a beat."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for the Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com